Just as many Frederick residents were seeing their power restored after a powerful storm system Sunday evening, weather experts warned that even more inclement weather was on the way.
Parts of Frederick County were under a brief tornado warning at around 3 p.m. Monday after a severe thunderstorm passed through the region, which resulted in moments of heavy rain and multiple calls for downed power lines and tree limbs.
A similar storm ravaged parts of Frederick on Sunday evening, leaving thousands without power overnight into Monday morning and others scrambling to repair damage from fallen trees.
Maureen Olson was working on her computer in her kitchen in the 400 block of Biggs Avenue when she noticed the worsening weather outside at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Stepping out onto her front porch, Olson saw a number of lightning strikes around her on the horizon and retreated inside as the rain and winds intensified.
“As soon as I went back inside there was this huge, tremendous crash outside and I thought, ‘now, what could that be?’” Olson said. “But when I came to look out these windows to see what had happened, all I could see was tree. Leaves of a tree, and there was broken glass all over the kitchen floor.”
Outside, a massive cherry tree had fallen diagonally from her neighbor’s backyard into the side of Olson’s home, first smashing a hole in her roof before sliding down the side of the house and landing on her newly purchased 2016 Honda Civic parked in the driveway next to her house.
“I couldn’t even see my car; I didn’t even know if my car was still there. I just had to assume because that was where I’d parked it, but it was completely covered,” Olson said, gesturing toward the dark blue car peeking out from under the mangled tree branches the next morning.
Sunday’s storm formed quickly thanks to the prevailing hot, humid weather that settled over the region last week, National Weather Service meteorologist Kyle Pallozzi said when reached for comment Monday afternoon. The already unstable atmosphere was further agitated as pockets of dry air moved in, resulting in powerful, straight-line winds and a heavy downpour across the county.
“The weather station at Frederick [Municipal] Airport reported gusts up to 52 or 59 mph with the storm, with estimates of about an inch of rainfall between 7:30 and 8:30 [p.m.], which is definitely a good amount, especially because I’m guessing most of that fell probably within the first half-hour of that time frame,” Pallozzi said.
Pallozzi classified Sunday’s storm as a microburst, citing the heavy rain, hail and damaging winds, along with the short time frame of the event.
At the height of the storm, Potomac Edison recorded approximately 6,000 customers without power in the county, according to Aaron Ruegg, a spokesman for FirstEnergy Corp. While most of those customers saw their power restored overnight into Monday morning, about 75 customers were still without power as of early Monday afternoon with a full recovery estimate for all customers expected by late Monday.
In the meantime, residents like Olson were left to pick up the pieces.
Having just spent a considerable amount of money replacing her now-destroyed gutters, Olson was hopeful her car would not be too damaged once the remainder of the tree can be removed — the car cost her $22,000 and was purchased less than six months ago — not to mention the gaping hole in her roof.
“I need to get this repaired or at least get someone up in the attic to see if it can be patched because I’m looking at the forecast and there’s even more rain on the way,” Olson said, pointing to the hole in the corner of her roof. “My power’s been restored, at least, but the last thing I want now is water leaking into my house.”
Thankfully, a relatively clear and dry forecast was expected after the last storms moved out of the region Monday night into Tuesday morning, Pallozzi said. Mostly cloudy conditions Tuesday will gradually clear into Wednesday with mostly clear, sunny skies expected through the remainder of the week.
Even better, the hot, humid conditions that held out over the region most of last week will also move out of the area in favor of much cooler, less humid weather beginning Tuesday, with highs not expected to surpass the upper 70s on Tuesday, Pallozzi said.
“It will probably come as a welcome relief to a lot of people compared to the temperatures we saw last week,” the meteorologist said with a laugh.