Thousands without power as storms roll through DC region

Storms down trees in Montgomery County, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)
A tree falls onto a car in Montgomery County, Maryland. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)
A tree falls down after severe weather strikes the D.C. area. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

Following extreme heat and humidity, severe thunderstorms rolled across the D.C. region Wednesday afternoon. And it’s not over yet — Thursday is going to feel like déjà vu.

Wednesday’s heat indexes — a measure of the effective air temperature with the added burden of humidity — ranged from 100 degrees west of Interstate 95 to near 105 east of I-95, prompting the National Weather Service to post a Heat Advisory until 8 p.m. for the entire WTOP listening area.

But Thursday’s highs will soar even higher. In an Excessive Heat Watch for Thursday, forecasters note a potential for 110-degree heat indexes along and to the east of the I-95 corridor. Heat-related illnesses are a significant risk for anyone working outdoors or caught in the sun for too long.

“High pressure anchored to our south will pump dangerous levels of heat and humidity into the area for the rest of the week,” Storm Team4 meteorologist Chuck Bell said. “Heat is the No. 1 weather-related killer worldwide every year; stay hydrated and in air conditioning as much as possible.”

Wednesday’s heat index forecast for the D.C. region. (Courtesy NWS)

Storm damage reported from this week’s storms

The National Weather Service issued severe thunderstorm warnings for parts of D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and warned of considerable damage to trees and large branches that could hurt those outdoors, as well as damage homes and vehicles. Roads could also become blocked by downed trees, the NWS said.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman Pete Piringer reported several storm-related incidents, including a tree that fell into a vehicle with entrapment, a tree blocking Whisper Wood Lane, and a tree that fell onto a house near Cheshire Drive. He also reported a possible lightning strike on Broad Green Drive near Claggett Farm Drive in Potomac, and a person who was injured by flying debris in Bethesda.

Downed trees in Loudoun County, Virginia, closed Route 9 in both directions at Daymont Lane.

In Montgomery County, Daniel Kosogof stared at a massive tree that had just fallen on a car he bought yesterday.

“I thought it was just lightning because I was taking a shower and then I come outside and I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, that was not lightning.’ That was what was once my car … it’s gone now,” Kosogof said.

There was also a tree blocking the street over on Wildwood Road in Kensington, where firefighters were just leaving the scene to go to another incident.

Kosogof said he was planning ahead with his new purchase because he just got a new job as a high school teacher.

“I need a car. I’m a teacher. School’s starting soon. I’m going to be commuting, you know,” he said.

Powerful winds and frequent lightning left scattered damage in parts of Maryland and Northern Virginia on Tuesday. A bolt of lightning set a Germantown apartment complex ablaze, displacing residents. Emergency responders in the District worked about two dozen calls for downed trees and wires.

Fairfax County resident Tom Waites said a 70-foot poplar tree tumbled into his carport, rending all three vehicles within undrivable.

“I was in the kitchen and all of a sudden, there was a boom — I think it was lightning,” Waites told WTOP. “I didn’t see it, but then I looked out and saw the entire carport had gone down.”

Strong thunderstorms have worked their way across the D.C. region every afternoon this week, a pattern that will hold over the next few days.

A Montgomery County officer on a traffic stop saw lightning strike the Millhaven Condos building, off Great Seneca Highway, before its roof erupted in flames. (Courtesy MCFRS/Pete Piringer)


Thursday’s storms will be more isolated — contributing to the extreme temperature forecast.

Rain chances climb on Friday night into Saturday with the arrival of a cold front from the interior. Chances of afternoon storms and uncomfortable humidity persist through the weekend, though highs will drop into the upper 80s.

Wednesday night: Evening storms will continue, dry overnight. Super muggy. Lows in the mid 70s to near 80.

Thursday: Still hazy, hot and humid. Isolated afternoon thunderstorms. Highs in the mid 90s to near 100, with heat indexes up to 110. Excessive Heat Watch in effect from noon to 8 p.m.

Friday: Partly cloudy, hot and humid. Afternoon showers and storms likely. Highs in the mid to upper 90s with heat indexes ranging from 100 to 105.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy, not as hot but still humid. Rain and thunder likely. Highs in the upper 80s.

Power outages:

WTOP’s Valerie Bonk reported from Montgomery County, Maryland.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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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