One of the nice things about Northern Virginia is that the weather is generally a mild mix of four seasons. Then again, we’re not immune from variations therefrom.
Last night, we had a squall line of thunderstorms with hurricane-force winds, lightening, and heavy rain blow through. (Check out the video link at the bottom of the page which explains the setup conditions.) This was a full-fledged land hurricane, or derecho, that started in Indiana. Wind gusts up to 91 mph were recorded making this a super derecho. This 100-mile long squall line formed a “bow echo” that travelled from Indiana to the mid-Atlantic coast in just 12 hours!
Net result? Ten dead so far and about 3 million without power. West Virginia, Virginia, and Ohio governors declared states of emergency. Governor Bob McDonnell noted that this storm resulted in the largest loss of power in VA – 2.5 million customers – outside of a tropical hurricane.
I can tell you that the storm line was very impressive here. The wind was VERY strong with horizontal rain and near-continuous lightening. I’ve lived all over the country and have been in a number of hurricanes as well as monster storms in the mid-west, but have never seen lightening as continuous for as long. By continuous, I mean just that – no time gaps without lightening lighting up the clouds. The storm possessed incredible energy. Some local weather folks live blogged during the storm. A connection on the pole in front of our house blew up at one point, then another down the street. We lost power a number of times, but it returned in a few minutes each time.
Trees are down all over the place, power out extensively across the area, including in retail stores that would normally have ice for those trying to preserve their food. Traffic is a mess with most traffic lights either out or mistimed. Most in the area had no land-line or cell phones this morning. Internet services was down as was the FIOS TV, probably due to power loss at the hubs. We lost all of the above (Internet came back not long ago) but retained our power. Temperatures are supposed to close in on 100 deg F today again (104 yesterday), so the lack of power will really hurt.
It may not be over yet, though. Today has exactly the same conditions as yesterday across the same area. There’s a great graphic here that shows the 75+ mph wind probability area as identical to yesterday’s. Ouch. Chances are that we’ll have storms again but probably not like last night. A repeat would break all kinds of weather records, but not the kind of which I’d like to be a part!