Strong storms move through DC region, causing outages in Va.

Lightning fills the sky during a late spring thunderstorm over the nation's capital in the midst of a turbulent week filled with unrelenting protests over the death of George Floyd. Two National Guard members were injured when lightning struck them at their posts within Lafayette Square, WTOP's news partners at NBC Washington reported; both recovered. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Spring is here, and it wouldn’t be complete without a rumble of thunder or two: Powerful storms made their way through the D.C. region throughout the evening Sunday.

In contrast to Saturday’s fair weather, Sunday’s outlook was immediately more complicated: Light rain heads through early this morning, before a lull sets in around noon.  More pronounced line of showers and thunderstorms brought together strong winds, causing damage throughout the region.

The storms caused more than 5,000 residents across the region lost power as heavy winds took out power lines. Recent numbers show that Fairfax County, Virginia has more than 2,500 residents that still have no power, while in Loudoun County, there are nearly 1,000 outages.

Dominion Energy said the sweeping outages started around 10 p.m. The electric utility company said 40-50 miles-per-hour winds are to blame as they knocked down trees and branches, which landed on power lines.

Residents can expect the power to return at around 4 a.m., but it could take longer, Dominion Energy said.

The storm caused a scaffolding atop of a four-story building in Prospect Street in Northwest D.C. to partially collapse. According to D.C. Fire and EMS, the scaffolding was found leaning over the sidewalk in a “precarious position,” forcing emergency crews to evacuated restaurants below and establish a collapse zone. No injuries were reported.

Storm Team4 Meteorologist Briana Bermensolo said that there were multiple reports of trees and wires down in Washington County and a roof blown off a home around 4 p.m. in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Prior to the outages, the National Weather Service said one of the storms had a high chance of spawning a tornado, and issued a warning to residents in northwestern Carroll County and north central Frederick County in Maryland that expired at 5 p.m.

The National Weather Service also reported several severe thunderstorms moving at around 60 mph through the region in a line, prompting the weather service to issue a severe thunderstorm warning for Carroll, Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery Counties, Maryland, and Northern Loudoun County in Virginia, until 5:45 p.m. That warning was expired early, around 5:30 p.m.

The weather service said gusts up to 50 mph were possible.

A thunderstorm watch was originally expected to be in effect until 9 p.m. for most of the region, but the weather service said the storms moved out early and the watch was cancelled around 7:30 p.m. They advised that people in the impacted areas get to an interior room on the lowest floor of their building until the threat passes.

The storms also presented a threat to the region’s cherry blossoms. The Yoshino trees at the Tidal Basin in D.C. reached peak bloom on Sunday, just before the line of storms hit.

A spokesperson for the National Park Service said the young age of the buds would give them extra hardiness to withstand the rain and winds, but the potential for lost petals was still high.

The weather turns windier in the wake of the cold front, with Monday’s highs dropping to the upper 50s — a cool-down of about 20 degrees compared to the weekend. Gusts could reach 50 mph overnight, prompting a wind advisory from Sunday evening to Monday morning. That advisory starts at 8 p.m.

“Tree limbs could be blown down and a few power outages may result,” the weather service cautioned. “Use extra caution when driving, especially if operating a high profile vehicle; secure outdoor objects.”


  • Monday: Mostly sunny and windy. Highs in the upper 50s.
  • Tuesday: Slight breeze, sunny and warmer. Highs in the upper 60s.
  • Wednesday: Rain showers, warm with increasing clouds. Highs in the mid 60s.

Current conditions:

Power outages:

WTOP’s Matt Delaney and Luke Garrett contributed to this report.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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