About 1.37 Million Still Without Power After Weekend Storms

Tuesday, 03 Jul 2012 10:27 AM


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About 1.37 million customers in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic remain without power as cleanup continues from weekend storms that brought down trees and power lines across 10 states.

The line of storms, known as a derecho, affected power for as many as 4.3 million customers from Virginia to New Jersey. At least 22 people were killed, the Associated Press reported. Power service may not be restored until next week in some areas, according to utility companies.

“Devastating winds and rain that ripped through Maryland last Friday left considerable damage, much of which still remains,” Exelon Corp.’s Baltimore Gas & Electric said in a statement today. The utility has restored power to 75 percent of its customers and expects work to continue into the coming weekend.

Temperatures are forecast to reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) for the rest of the week in Washington, Philadelphia and the central U.S. There’s a chance of additional severe thunderstorms from Virginia to South Carolina, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

A derecho is a widespread wind storm with gusts of at least 58 miles (93 kilometers) per hour, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Gusts from the storm system were clocked at 91 mph near Fort Wayne, Indiana, and 71 mph at Dulles airport in northern Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

Historic Outages

“Power companies say these are historic levels of outages, typically seen only after hurricanes,” according to a statement from Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell yesterday. “It will take the rest of this week to fully restore power, especially in hard-hit southwestern and northern Virginia.”

President Barack Obama yesterday declared West Virginia and Ohio federal disaster areas. The District of Columbia has requested disaster status.

Federal government employees in the Washington area are allowed to work from home or take an unscheduled day off for a second day. Washington remains under a state of emergency because of storm damage, with recreation centers and libraries opened as cooling centers for residents.

Pepco Holdings Inc. needs to do a better job responding to the storm and outages, Washington Mayor Vincent Gray said on his official Twitter account yesterday. Pepco, which serves customers in the Washington area, said 118,098 were without power today.

Dominion Losses

Along with Washington, the storm left damage in North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.

Dominion Resources Inc., based in Richmond, Virginia, and owner of the state’s largest utility, had 139,051 customers without service today, according to its website. The company sees power returning to “virtually all” customers by July 8. Almost 1 million of its 2.4 million customers lost power because of the storms.

American Electric Power Co. reported about 768,000 homes and businesses without electricity in Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia today.

Heat will bear down on the central U.S. from Missouri to the mid-Atlantic states until the weekend, said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

In Washington, temperatures are forecast to be in the 90s for the rest of the week, peaking at 99 this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

“We should see lots more 100-degree readings, especially in the southern Midwest, Plains and interior Deep South,” Rogers said. “Cities like Chicago and into the mid-Atlantic should also pick up a few more century readings.”

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