- guardian.co.uk, Saturday 30 June 2012
Powerful storms have struck the mid-Atlantic states with hurricane-force gusts, knocking out power to more than (5 by June 30) million people in the region and prompting the West Virginia governor to declare a statewide emergency.
The US National Weather Service posted a severe thunderstorm watch for portions of the District of Columbia, eastern Kentucky, western Maryland, south-western Pennsylvania, much of Virginia and parts of West Virginia.
The advisory, which warned of wind gusts of up to 80mph (129km/h) and large hail, was to remain in effect until early on Saturday morning.
The West Virginia governor, Ray Tomblin, declared a state of emergency for the whole state after storms that he said had left about 500,000 people without electricity in at least 27 counties.
The declaration allows “government resources to be devoted immediately to helping those in need and restoring power as soon as possible”, he said in a statement.
Wind gusts at speeds of up to 79mph (127km/h) were reported in and around the US capital, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes in the Washington DC area.
WJLA television reported one fatality in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia, after a tree fell on a car.
Bands of rain lashed the District of Columbia, and winds littered the streets with tree limbs as the fast-moving storms, which started in the Midwest after a day of severe heat, reached Washington and its suburbs late in the evening.
WTOP radio said more than 800,000 people in the Washington area were without power. Outages hit several Washington Metro stations, the Washington Post reported.
A flash-flood warning was issued in Fredrick County, Maryland, until 1.15am on Saturday.
WUSA television in Washington said thousands of trees and tree branches were likely to have been downed by the storm.
Temperature records for the month of June were broken on Friday in Washington, Atlanta and Louisville, Kentucky. In all three cities, the temperature hit at least 104F (40C), according to the National Weather Service.