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Short, hard-hitting storm knocks out power to 3,000

July 22, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

About 3,000 Hagerstown-area residents were without power Monday night after a brief thunderstorm plowed through the city.

Janice Lantz, spokeswoman for Allegheny Energy, said 3,000 customers in Hagerstown, Maugansville and Middletown were without power. She said crews were to work through the night to fix the outages and she expected power to be restored by this morning.

Howard Silverman, with the National Weather Service, said the thunderstorm passed through Williamsport, then blasted the core of Hagerstown before proceeding to State Line, Pa.

"The combination of high winds brought down lines. Tree limbs brought down lines, too," Lantz said.

Silverman said the agency issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Washington County between 7:27 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday.

He said at that time the Hagerstown Regional Airport reported 2/10 of an inch of rain and wind gusts at 47 miles per hour, but he said that the airport missed the brunt of the storm.

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Silverman said he wouldn't be surprised if the winds and rainfall in Hagerstown were higher than the airport's record.

Authorities in Washington and Frederick counties reported numerous reports of downed wires. A Washington County Emergency Services dispatcher said Maugansville and Long Meadow appeared to by hit hardest.

On Spring Creek Road in Long Meadow, wires fell to the ground and reportedly were on fire, closing the road for traffic, according to the dispatcher.

Spokesmen from Maryland State Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Department said there were numerous minor "fender-bender" crashes as result of the storm. They also said many burglar alarms were set of by the pounding rain and wind.

Silverman said thunderstorms were in the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday. The storms are a result of a cold front centered in the Ohio Valley that is triggering thunderstorms in the Hagerstown area, which has experienced unstable hot and humid weather conditions.

He said that before the storm Monday night temperatures were in the upper 80s, but after the storm the temperature dropped to the mid-70s.

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