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Powerful Storm Leaves Thousands in Dark, Kills One

Severe winds, lightning, and torrential rain swept through Montgomery and Prince George's counties. 'Everyone thought they were going to die,' one resident wrote.

Last update: 3:20 p.m.

A powerful storm with wind gusts up to 60 mph struck a brief but hard blow on Montgomery and Prince George's counties Friday night, leaving hundreds of thousands without power in a potentially dangerous heat wave.

One person was killed in Montgomery County, according to police.

Residents hunkered down against the wind, flashes of lightning and driving rain as the National Weather Service issued severe storm warnings. Large swaths of Montgomery County and Prince George's County lost power in what meteorologists have identified as a derecho.

As of 3:00 p.m. Saturday, some 224,540 customers (73 percent) in Montgomery County and 130,183 customers (58 percent) in Prince George's County were without service, according to Pepco. 

Officials also said about 500 out of 800 traffic signals in Montgomery County were dark as of Saturday morning.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission issued mandatory water restrictions for all Montgomery and Prince George’s County customers after the storms reportedly knocked out power to WSSC’s two water filtration plants.

The body 71-year-old woman was discovered Saturday morning when fire and rescue personnel responded to a call for a downed tree in the 10000 block of Grant Avenue in Silver Spring. She was apparently killed when a large Maple tree fell through the roof and onto her bed.

Meanwhile, a tree that fell across Brookville Road near Thornapple Street in Section 3 of the Village of Chevy Chase didn't fall onto any houses, but it was still frightening enough that "everyone thought they were going to die," according to resident Edward Ponzi.

A drive around the Kensington and Bethesda areas proved hazardous before dawn, with major roads, including Connecticut Avenue, blocked by downed trees. Traffic lights at major intersections, including East-West Highway, were dark, and roads were littered with debris.

Police and work crews were out setting up roadblocks for downed trees and conducting cleanup.

Part of the roof of Park Tanglewood apartments, a seven-story building in Riverdale Park, was torn off by the high winds, displacing hundreds of residents.

The Washington Post reported that, in all, more than 1.5 million homes and businesses across Maryland and Virginia lost power. A Pepco spokeswoman said some customers could be without service for multiple days.

Highs on Saturday were around 100°, with more storms expected between 4 and 8 p.m.

"It's pretty brutal with no AC in this kind of heat," Greenbelt resident Fred Wilcox told Patch Saturday afternoon. "…It could really be life threatening for other people."

Cooling centers have been opened in both and counties, while many pools in Prince George's will be holding extended hours and waiving admission fees on Saturday.

To report power outages, call Pepco at 877-737-2662.

This story was updated at 6:50 p.m. with additional quotes.

What happened to you during the storm? Tell us in comments and post your photos.

George Karadimas June 30, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Can A PEPCO Official explain to us here, How the SMART METERS and their timeliness of the power outage information propagation of the storm, to PEPCO Command and Control center, is going to speed up the power outage effort in remediation of the storm damage?
Corbin Dallas Multipass June 30, 2012 at 01:07 PM
http://www.wsscwater.com/home/jsp/misc/genericNews.faces?pgurl=/Communication/NewsRelease/2012/2012-06-30a.html has details of the Water Restrictions and why they're necessary: "Due to extremely high temperatures, water consumption has been at its highest this year. And, normally we would use the overnight hours to refill the system. But, last night’s storms prevented that from occurring." They're asking for the following restrictions: "Stop all outside water use – no watering lawns, shrubs, flowers; no washing cars, no topping off swimming pools. Use water only as necessary – i.e., shorter showers and turn off faucets after washing hands. Limit flushing toilets (do not flush after every use). Postpone using washing machines and dishwashers."
Jay Levy June 30, 2012 at 01:10 PM
Lucky us. Pepco restored power in our neighborhood -Baltimore Avenue- at 4:15am.
Jenni Pompi (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 01:17 PM
We didn't loose power in Riverdale Park on my block (4900 block of Queensbury), but I understand that lots of homes on Queensbury west of Rt. 1 are out, as are many homes in University Park. A huge tree limb came down around 10:45 a.m. blocking Queensbury between Taylor and 49th, but it was cleared before 8:00 a.m. Still lots of smaller limbs down all over the street/sidewalk, though.
Corbin Dallas Multipass June 30, 2012 at 01:17 PM
This is an interesting article, I was trying to find state laws for how people are supposed to behave at intersections with non functioning traffic signals. Apparently, there is no law? http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2011-08-31/news/bs-ed-signals-20110831_1_signal-intersections-traffic-lights The MVA has said in press releases (http://www.mva.maryland.gov/About-MVA/PRESS/100726.htm) : "When a traffic light is malfunctioning or not working, you should treat this intersection as a four-way stop sign. Come to a complete stop and yield to all other traffic, then proceed when the way is clear." This is probably common sense at the least.
spleeness June 30, 2012 at 01:42 PM
I'm in College Park and have power, but I don't know if everyone does or I'm just lucky. I'm located off the corner of Route 1 and Berwyn Road.
Jenni Pompi (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 01:49 PM
My husband said all the traffic lights in downtown College Park are out, up to the car wash just south of Greenbelt Road.
Sonia Dasgupta (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 02:07 PM
If you have photos of the storm damage, please upload them to this post. If you have outages to report, please let us know, but also report them to Pepco -- To report an outage, call 1-877-737-2662, visit http://bit.ly/wvoA4c, or download their mobile app at http://pepco.com/mobileapp.
Katie Griffith June 30, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Pepco reports that outages may take a few days to fix: http://patch.com/A-vDYC
Mary harvey June 30, 2012 at 02:29 PM
Mary Harvey In Indian Head, Md. No power and trees down
Mark Shroder June 30, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Fallen tree blocking 48th Ave between Hollywood and Lackawanna. Utility pole snapped off at Lackawanna and 49th Pl.
Steve Willi June 30, 2012 at 02:54 PM
Germantown MD down...
Temperance Blalock June 30, 2012 at 02:56 PM
I just got home after driving south on the Pike from Town Center to Randolph Rd, and then back. Almost all traffic lights were dark, and there were no police conducting traffic. Most people were driving cautiously, stopping at intersections, but a few were taking advantage of the situation and driving recklessly. I'm afraid that there will probably be several dangerous accidents at these intersections before power is restored.
Sylver Celeste June 30, 2012 at 03:16 PM
Town Center Market in Riverdale, MD has power. Grateful local residents are charging electronic devices and staying cool here. Trains don't seem to be running on the CSX line.
Bob Woods June 30, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Is anyone else having trouble with AT&T cell service? I'm getting a "No Service" prompt in the Colesville/Cloverly area ...
Sylver Celeste June 30, 2012 at 03:27 PM
AT&T cell service seems to be working in Riverdale but having a hard time getting thru to some people with a landline. Getting a "not accepting calls at this time" message or immediately going to voicemail.
Patti June 30, 2012 at 03:28 PM
No power in Gaithersburg! Here visiting...may head back to SC...does anyone in Gaithersburg have any power? I noticed McDonald's on Montgomery Villiage Ave had power...
Rachel June 30, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Does anyone know what businesses in College Park are open?
Carisa Oyebanjo, LCPC June 30, 2012 at 05:19 PM
The Office Buildings at 7305 and 7307 Baltimore Ave. have power. When I came to College Park at 9am the Shopping Center with the CVS, Starbucks and Chipotle did not have power. Most of the Businesses near the above address did not have power. Not sure if it has been restored since then.
Jennifer June 30, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Burtonsville has power and Praisner Library is open, as Patch reports.
Danna Walker (Editor) June 30, 2012 at 05:52 PM
If you're suffering from the heat, the county has opened cooling centers: http://kensington.patch.com/articles/montgomery-county-opens-cooling-centers. Be sure to check on neighbors.
Inside Info June 30, 2012 at 06:34 PM
For the most part, traffic is making do. However, I have only seen police directing traffic at Rt 355-Shady Grove Road and R28/Viers Mill..... I guess the union doesn't want them to work on a Saturday?
Susan June 30, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I was in line on Old Georgetown Rd getting gas and we spotted a castle shaped pizza store called M&N's Pizza. We had been in line for a long time and we were hungry so we gave it a try and it was yummy. Most Bethesda restaurants are closed and if you are hungry and want good food call them. They deliver as well. We finally got gas and we are headed to O.C.
Vito June 30, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I was getting gas at M&N'sPizza on Old Georgetown Rd we spotted a gas station'We had been piggin out for a long time and I had to do my duty.Most gas stations in Bethesda are closed and the rest room was cleaner than my front seat.I made my duty call an dnow were headed up to Jersey .
Vito June 30, 2012 at 08:42 PM
I bet you will look hot in ya bikini after eating that pizza
Vito June 30, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Take ya seatbelt off and 3 of them will be on you
jag July 01, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Hey Pepco, I'll be okay with your prospective rate increase if you're okay with replacing all the food in fridge every time your power goes out all day. Deal?
Emil July 01, 2012 at 02:33 AM
No power in Takoma Park, but Georgia ave has power. Jag: I agree! I am pissed at wasting a frig full of food. Pepco, you want a rate hike? Pay for my wasted food!
Kirk Marchand July 01, 2012 at 12:35 PM
Ocean City got the same storm, except instead of 60 mile an hour winds it was 100 mile an hour wionds. Power didn't even go off for 1 second, everything is fine. What does BGE do that PEPCO doesn't?
Molly M July 03, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Mary, I hope you see this and respond. Thanks for your report. We recently moved from Indian Head, had a house on Strauss Ave, near George's Ribs. Wondering if trees are down there and how the rest of the town is doing? How long was power off? How bad was the storm? Feel like we really dodged a bullet!!

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