Downed wires, trees, outages as strong winds sweep through DC area

Heavy winds brought trees down on residential driveways near Pyle Road and Maiden Lane in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Heavy winds brought trees down on residential driveways near Pyle Road and Maiden Lane in Bethesda, Maryland.

High winds toppled this tree near American University April 30, 2021.

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Strong winds with gusts between 50 to 70 mph Friday, brought considerable tree and power line damage to the D.C. area.

D.C. Fire and EMS responded to dozens of calls during and after the storm, according to spokesman Vito Maggiolo.

“We got calls for trees down, wires down, possible structural damage,” Maggiolo said.

A tree branch fell on a home on Walter Street in Southeast D.C. but residents were evacuated safely. A building inspector was called to survey the damage.

Also in D.C., a building under renovation on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue suffered structural damage caused by high winds.

“It was quite a day,” Maggiolo said. “All of our units were responding from one call to another,” he said.

Northern Virginia was also heavily impacted by the storm. There were several downed power lines and traffic signals that were out in Reston and Tysons.

Storm Team4 meteorologist Bruana Bermensolo said that gusty winds between 30 and 40 mph are still expected on Saturday but will decrease in strength throughout the day.

It’s expected to stay blustery and cold Saturday with wind chills starting in the 30s and 40s and warming up to the upper 60s and 70s Saturday afternoon.

Bermensolo said that highs will climb back into the low to mid 80s on Sunday.

On Friday by 3 p.m., Storm Team4 meteorologist Doug Kammerer said there were reports of trees coming down due to the high winds, with some falling into roadways, leading to reports of injuries.

The high wind warning lasted over eight hours before being cancelled Friday evening. It covered D.C., central and southeast Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, Arlington, eastern Loudoun and Fairfax counties, including the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax and Falls Church.

Kammerer said high wind warnings, like the one issued by the National Weather Service, are not typically seen in the D.C. area.

The affected areas saw northwest winds 25 mph to 35 mph with gusts of up to 60 mph.

In Virginia’s Clarke and Frederick counties, including Winchester, a wind advisory was in effect until 1 a.m. Saturday. Northwest winds of 20 mph to 30 mph are expected, with gusts to 55 mph.

All three Southern Maryland counties, plus Virginia’s Fauquier, Rappahanhock, Stafford, Culpeper and Prince William counties, were under a wind advisory until 2 a.m. Saturday. Winds of 20 mph to 30 mph are expected, with gusts to 55 mph.

Also on Friday afternoon, storms hovered the area triggering severe thunderstorm warnings that expired.



Fallen trees and power lines

The weather service said damaging winds blew down trees and power lines, which started occurring Friday morning and continued throughout the day.

DC Fire and EMS said there are numerous downed trees and power lines throughout the city. A building under renovation on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue has structural damage related to high winds.

On Walter Street in Southeast — a tree branch fell on a home. Residents were evacuated and the building inspector was called to survey the damage.

In Northern Virginia, there are a lot of downed power lines, and traffic signals are out. Reston and Tysons were some of the biggest areas that were affected.

In Montgomery County, fire and rescue workers said they had to wait until Pepco shut the power off to the downed lines in Silver Spring before they could begin putting out the fires, WTOP’s Kyle Cooper reported.

Outages

By 5 p.m., there were thousands of outages reported across the region.

Electric companies are working to get the electricity back on, and are prepared for more outages.

“We have extra staff that we’ve brought in,” Peggy Fox, spokeswoman for Dominion Energy, told WTOP. “We have our own meteorologist who has been keeping our operations folks informed.

Dominion Energy and PEPCO are concerned more high winds could bring down trees and branches onto power wires.

“We urge customers to stay away from downed wires and assume that any downed wires are energized,” said Jamie Caswell, spokeswoman for PEPCO.

“If poles come down, that’s some intensive labor that has to take place,” Fox said. “If there’s damage, we’ll have to replace those wires and poles, and that might take a little bit of time.”

Fox has this advice: “Make sure your devices are charged just in case you have an outage.”

Potomac house fire likely caused by downed power lines

Fire officials in Montgomery County said they are investigating a house fire in Potomac that was likely caused by downed power lines.

Flames started on the roof of a home in the 8600 block of Bunnel Drive around 5 a.m., according to Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service’s spokesman.

He said the fire extended into the house and caused about $100,000 in damages before it was under control. All the occupants made it out of the house in time, there are no reported injuries.

Forecast

Winds are still gusting Saturday in the 30 to 40 mph range. Expect a blustery and cold day warming up to to the upper 60s to around 70 Saturday afternoon with sunny skies.

  • Saturday: Mostly sunny. Breezy at times with calming winds later in the day. Highs in the upper 60s to around 70.
  • Saturday overnight: Mostly clear skies. Lows in the upper 40s to mid 50s.
  • Sunday: Sunny and hotter. Highs in the low to mid 80s.
  • Monday: Chance of showers with an increasing change in the evening hours. Highs in the mid to upper 70s.
  • Tuesday: Partly sunny and warm. Chance for afternoon thunderstorms. Highs in the mid to upper 80s.

Current weather

WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher, Nick Iannelli, Matt Small and Acacia James contributed to this story.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She has a master’s degree in interactive journalism from American University and a master’s degree in English Literature from The George Washington University.

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

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