Storm knocks out power in Hagerstown

September 15, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER |
  • An evening rainbow glows over the new Science Technology Engineering and Math building under construction at Hagerstown Community College after a thunderstorm with a great deal of lightning passed through the area Wednesday.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

TRI-STATE — A severe thunderstorm knocked out power in parts of Hagerstown on Wednesday evening.

There were no actiive flood watches or warnings for Washington County on Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service. A flood advisory for eastern Franklin County was canceled at 7:45 a.m.

The weather service issued a severe thunderstorm warning around 6 p.m. Wednesday for Washington County that cautioned residents about a line of storms heading east.

The storms — which also darkened some city traffic lights — were capable of producing hail up to the size of a half-dollar and damaging winds in excess of 60 mph, the warning said.

“This is a dangerous storm,” the warning said at the time. “If you are in its path, move indoors to a sturdy building and stay away from windows.”

Hagerstown officials were not available Wednesday night to provide details on the outages in the city.  The Herald-Mail was without primary power from 6:14 p.m. to 7:55 p.m.

The storms were in advance of a cold front that will drop temperatures in the region over the weekend, said Carrie Suffern, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

The slow-moving, large storm cell that passed through the area around 6:15 p.m. straddled the Mason-Dixon Line, Suffern said.

In Shippensburg, Pa., water covered both lanes of Interstate 81 near Exit 24 and Mt. Rock Road, said Kory Alspaugh, assistant fire chief at West End Fire and Rescue Co.

Alspaugh said that it is a low-lying area that tends to flood during heavy rains.

Shippensburg was “hammered” with heavy rain Wednesday night, he said.

When the water floods the road, it can also affect a giant decorative paint can on the west side of the road at A & A Decorative Design & Supplies Inc., he said.

Water ran under the can, lifting it Wednesday evening, he said. Rescuers were called to the scene at 6:41 p.m., because the can was leaning and threatening nearby power lines, he said.

During the storm, Alspaugh said there were also two fires in Southampton Township (Pa.) likely caused by lightning strikes. Two detached garages caught fire between 5:51 p.m. and 6:27 p.m. he said.

One woman was treated at the scene of the first for smoke inhalation, he said.

John LaCorte, a weather service meteorologist in the State College, Pa. office, said the storm also moved along the border between Franklin and Adams counties in Pennsylvania at about 6:40 p.m.

The storm dumped a lot of rain in a short amount of time with isolated amounts of between 1 and 2 inches, Suffern said.

Hagerstown weather watcher Greg Keefer’s website recorded 0.19 inches in Hagerstown.

The heavy rain coupled with saturated ground could produce flooding in some areas, LaCorte said.

A flash-flood warning was issued at 6:10 p.m. for Washington County and remained in effect until 9:15 p.m., according to the warning.

The storm was observed producing torrential rains as it moved through the area, the warning said.

In Franklin County, a flood advisory was put into effect until 8:45 p.m. and was still in effect Thursday morning.

Locations expected to experience minor flooding included Mercersburg, Pa., Chambersburg, Pa., and Greencastle, Pa. the advisory said.

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