Storm leaves millions without power

Sat, Jun 30, 2012, 01:00

More than 2 million people were without power in the US mid-Atlantic region today from hurricane-force winds that ripped through the area overnight.

Restoring power in storm-damaged parts of Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia is expected to take as long as five days even as the region grapples with a record-breaking heat wave.

At least one person was killed by the storm.

Repairing damage "is a monumental task. This is something that is going to take days, not hours," said Ed McDonough, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Emergency Management.

A line of powerful thunderstorms with winds of more than 128 kph and heavy rain accompanied by intense lightning
tore through the area late yesterday, downing trees and power lines.

About 800,000 customers in Maryland were without power today. Every county in the state had reported outages,
Mr McDonough said. Karl Neddenien, a spokesman for Dominion Virginia Power said 700,000 customers were without electricity because of "catastrophic damage" in central and northern Virginia.

In West Virginia, Governor Ray Tomblin declared a statewide emergency. A spokesman for the state's emergency management office said about 672,000 people were without power. In the District of Columbia, the Pepco utility said
68,000 customers were effected and power might not be fully restored until the July 4th holiday.

Area power companies are calling in crews from utilities in neighboring states to help clear damage and restore electricity.

WJLA Television reported one fatality in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia, after a tree fell on a car.

The widespread power outages come as the National Weather Service forecast another day of record-breaking heat and severe thunderstorms across the Ohio Valley and into the northern mid-Atlantic states. Records for June were broken yesterday in Washington, Atlanta and Louisville, Kentucky.

The mercury hit at least 104 F (40 C) in all three cities, according to the National Weather Service. The high heat prompted the AT&T National golf tournament at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, to close
the competition to spectators and volunteers today.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission ordered water restrictions in Montgomery and Prince George's counties because the storms had knocked out power to its filtration plants and other facilities.