Saturday, June 30, 2012


A powerful thunderstorm system blasted Bethesda Friday night, knocking out power throughout town, and leaving a massive mess in its wake.

73% of residents had no power Friday night.  An urgent public health emergency looms today, with temperatures forecast as feeling like 115 degrees, and A/C-deprived Pepco customers being told power will be out for several days.

It is unclear at this hour just what locations in Bethesda do have power, in terms of what sites can be opened as cooling stations today.

Trees are down from Bethesda Row to the Potomac River.  Massive power outages were reported by residents in neighborhoods off of major highways like River Road and Old Georgetown Road.  One resident near Goldsboro Road reported hearing repeated blasts of a truck air horn over an hour-long period during the night.  I have no idea what that could have been, but would assume it was something serious to make that much noise at night.  If anyone knows what that was related to, let me know, and I'll pass that information on.

Pepco is now facing its first real test of its  2-year-long service improvements.  Bethesda residents reported that outage hotlines were down around 11 PM last night.  Today the area will find out if Pepco has the crews from outside DC to respond to one of the biggest outages in history.  If Pepco rises to the challenge, it could greatly improve public opinion of the utility.

Downtown Bethesda outages left late night partiers without post-nightclub eats.  Both Bold Bite and Jiffy Shoppes were forced to close.  Redwood's Bethesda Lane patio was lashed by hurricane force winds.

In fact, an 80 MPH wind shear was recorded in Bethesda at the height of the storm.  The freight train sounds I heard confirm that.  I was sure a tornado would spawn at any moment, but the damage suggests that circular wind patterns did occur.  Leaves carpet streets, and tree companies will be busy for weeks.  The full extent of the damage will be known once the sun rises this morning.

If you have difficulty reaching Pepco, try their Twitter at @PepcoConnect.

Monitor radio for announcements of cooling centers if you have no AC.

Be advised that more storms are expected today and Sunday.

Stay tuned for more details on one of the Top 5 most violent storms to hit Bethesda in the last 50 years.  Follow me on Twitter @BethesdaRow for more breaking weather news.

Stay cool, Bethesda!

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