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Update: Hundreds of Thousands without Power, Air Conditioning

Powerful 'derecho' slams metro area. Dominion Power says it could be 'multiple days' before power restored to all. Temperatures in some areas reached 100 degrees at 3 p.m.

Update 10 p.m.

The number of homes in Northern Virginia without power Saturday night is still immense after Friday night's "derecho" storm, but the number is shrinking. As of 10 p.m., there were 345,630 Dominion Power customers without power in Northern Virginia.

Burke Centre Library will be open Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. for residents seeking relief from the heat. Regional libraries with power will also be open. Please call ahead if possible. Library locations and contact information.

Due to ongoing power outages, all indoor activities at Fairfax County Public Schools are canceled for Sunday. Outdoor activities may continue as scheduled.

Get statewide road updates from VDOT: OnlineTwitterFacebook or call 800-FOR-ROAD.

Update 6:45 p.m.

As of about 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, 378,755 customers of Dominion Power were without power in the aftermath of a powerful storm that swept through the area Friday night.

Dominion Virginia Power personnel will be working around the clock until all customers are restored, according to a release from the company. Storm restoration information is available online at https://www.dom.com/storm-center/index.jsp

Many local businesses—including grocery stores, gas stations and shopping centers are closed. Local hotels are filling up with residents without power. Many traffic lights are still out, with drivers using four-way stops.

Local weather forecasts are calling for strong to severe storms later Saturday. A storm system has developed southwest of the D.C. area, that should stay south of the metro area as it tracks east through Fredericksburg and beyond over the next one to two hours, according to the Capital Weather Gang.

Update 4 p.m.

As of 4 p.m., the number of people without power across Northern Virginia had dropped below 400,000.

Because of the widespread nature of this storm, utility crews from as far away as Texas are enroute to the mid-Atlantic. Governor McDonnell said earlier today this is the biggest non-hurricane power outage in the state's history. 

Photo galleries from Patch editors and our readers, of damage around Northern Virginia:

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Update 3 p.m.

As of 3 p.m., Dominion Virginia Power reported 403,530 customers without power in Northern Virginia.

The temperature at 3 p.m. in Northern Virginia is 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service and the entire area is under a heat warning or a heat avdvisory. (See tips on staying cool and keeping your pets cool toward the bottom of this article.)

Many hotels in the area are booked up already, with some offering discounts to storm victims and some relaxing rules about pets. Grocery and convenience stores are reporting shortages of ice.

For information on what cooling centers are open in your area, dial 211. 

911 service is partially restored in pockets throughout the state, but not everywhere. This has to do, at least in part, with wide telecommunications failures across Northern Virginia.

The that are trying to restore service to customers. 

Update 11:45 a.m.

As of 11:43 a.m., Dominion Virginia Power reported still nearly 430,000 customers without power on what could be one of the hottest days this year. Dominion is continuing to ask customers to call by calling 866-DOM-HELP (866-366-4357), or by visiting the Dominion Storm Center, even if you think your neighbor has already reported it.

Other power providers, including NOVEC and Pepco, are also reporting widespread outages. 

Many mobile customers of Verizon, AT&T and other major cellular providers are reporting difficulty accessing the Internet, email and making phone calls this morning.

The Fairfax County emergency blog is reporting the county's 911 call center is down. Some areas of Prince William County are also experiencing intermittent difficulties.

An increasing area of concern for emergency officials is the rapidly rising temperature. They are asking residents to check on elderly neighbors and try to stay cool by going to places that do have power and air conditioning — check your local movie theater, mall or library.

Update 11:20 a.m.

Merni Fitzgerald, the director of public affairs for Fairfax County, said the county has activated its emergency operations center and will be posting a comprehensive list of resources for local residents on its emergency blog shortly.

Residents can elect to receive email notifications whenever the blog is updated. 

Update: 10:45 a.m.

Throughout Northern Virginia, that number is 437,102. Nearly a quarter of a million customers in Fairfax County are without power—or air conditioning—this morning.

Dominion is reporting 235,164 out of its nearly 400,000 Fairfax customers are currently offline.

Fairfax County Police officers and other jurisdictions are assessing the extent of storm damage. Be sure to check back with Patch.

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Original Story - 8 a.m. Saturday

Two Killed Friday in 'Derecho' Storm in Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia woke up to power outages and scattered tree limbs and debris in roads after a powerful storm hit the area Friday night, killing two people in its wake after a day of record heat.

Khiet Nguyen, 27, of Burke died at about 11 p.m. after a tree hit his 1998 Mercury while he was driving west on Old Keene Mill Drive near Bauer Drive, according to Fairfax County Police. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A 90-year-old woman died in Springfield when a tree fell on her home as she was lying in bed, according to FCPD. Another occupant of the home called 911 but was unable to reach the victim.

Police, fire and rescue units responded to the home in the 8100 block of Carr Street Friday just before 11 p.m. A construction crane and specialized tree removal equipment have been brought to the scene and the operation is ongoing.

The victim’s name will be released when next of kin has been notified.

Verizon and AT&T customers have reported being without cell and home phoen service Saturday.

"The severe storms that hit the Washington metropolitan area Friday night – and the resulting power outages that have affected much of the region – have also affected services for some Verizon customers," said Harry J. Mitchell with Verizon Communications. "Our operations teams currently are assessing the impact and are working to restore service as quickly as possible." 

Patch is waiting on information from AT&T regarding outages.  

The high temperature today will reach 99 with a heat index of 105 — a potentially dangerous situation for the thousands who are without power (and therefore air conditioning) today. There is a chance for thunderstorms this afternoon, but they are not expected to be nearly as severe as they were last night. Temperatures will cool into the upper 70s tonight. 

According to some local meterologists, Friday night's storm may have been a "derecho."

A derecho is "widespread, long-lived wind storm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms. Although a derecho can produce destruction similar to that of tornadoes, the damage typically is directed in one direction along a relatively straight swath. As a result, the term 'straight-line wind damage" sometimes is used to describe derecho damage,'" according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

As of 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, the number out of power in the Northern Virginia area was about 450,000 according to Dominion Power spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson, who was on her way back into the office at about 7:45 a.m. Saturday after a long night updating the media.

"It's way too soon to say when power will be restored," said Anderson, adding she expects it to be "multiple days" before power is fully restored to all homes. "Today we're focusing on assessing the damage."

As of 1:30 a.m. Saturday, outage figures from Domion Power:

Statewide: 540,285

Northern Virginia: 462,940

  • Alexandria: 26,800
  • Arlington: 58,000
  • Fairfax County: 242,750
  • City of Fairfax: 9,000
  • Falls Church: About 4,700
  • Prince William County: 22,000
  • Loudoun County: 36,117

If your power is out, report it to Dominion Virginia Power by calling 866-DOM-HELP (866-366-4357), or by visiting the Dominion Storm Center, even if you think your neighbor has already reported it.

Heat Tips

  • If you don’t have air conditioning, go somewhere that has it. If you have to, try to stay on the lowest floor of a building and stay out of the sun.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated—a key component to keeping yourself cool.
  • Dress in light colored, lightweight clothes.
  • Try to spend the hottest part of the day in an air-conditioned location, such as your local library, movie theater or mall.
  • Check on your elderly neighbors, who are more susceptible to heat-related health problems.
  • Even with shade and water, it’s just too hot for your animals to be outside.
  • Double Dog Dare blogger Ariel Leath has .

 

Were you surprised by the severity of this storm? What were you doing when the derecho hit the area? Tell us in the Comments.

Patch editors Jason Spencer and Lauren Jost contributed to this story.

Chris Banzet June 30, 2012 at 12:46 PM
We hit the basement as all cautious people should have. I only wish the elderly lady who was killed would have had someone there with her to waist her to a safe area. People should always remember that a tree branch versus even the most secure brick home is always going to result in a bad outcome. Get down in your basement or lower level during a storm that produces this kind of dangerous wind!
Chris Banzet June 30, 2012 at 12:49 PM
It should read to "assist" her to a safe area.
Tim Parker June 30, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Yes, very surprised that we had a storm at all last night, given the clear skies and temperatures we had all day yesterday. I had just fallen asleep, and the winds woke me up...I thought, gee, the air conditioner is noisy! But then I got up, and saw the lightning flashes, and heard the wind. I watched the storm from our upstairs bedrooms for probably 15 minutes...was really concerned that trees might just topple on to the house, as they were being blown every which way. Of course, the storm abated just as quickly as it arrived; I'd say 25 minutes, from start to finish. Fortunately, no damage that I'm aware of, just a lot of leaves & twigs in the yard.
Kim June 30, 2012 at 04:20 PM
From USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service: For those without power and need to get questions about food safety answered -- Ask Karen mobile is available. http://m.askkaren.gov/ and http://m.pregunteleakaren.gov
William Connery June 30, 2012 at 05:26 PM
My phone and cell service is still out at 1:30 pm. At least the electricity and Internet is working. The storm came up suddenly last night. Blew down a small limb that sagged onto my Verizon cable line. Otherwise just twigs and leaves to sweep up!
Leslie Perales Loges June 30, 2012 at 05:32 PM
I have AT&T and my service is still out too.
V Dom July 01, 2012 at 04:59 AM
Power came back on around 1pm Saturday, but when I went to get gas and food around 3pm, most places were closed and many were without power. The one gas station that appeared to be open in my area had a line down the street. I think that they may have run out of gas. I did not have much fuel, so I gave up and went home. I did not want to get stranded and have to walk home in the 100 degree weather.
Terry July 01, 2012 at 08:57 AM
I was awake during the storm and tried to go outside to see what the noise was. Man the wind was trowing tree stubs all through the air and couldn't get out the walk way. I was really surprised and though it was a weak tornado. What really surprised me was the spotty electric all day Saturday. In my walk would see islands of places having electric and the next street over total darkness. The one thing I wish people would treated darkened traffic signals like stop signs. I saw many an accident in my trip to a store that could have been avoided.
Linda July 01, 2012 at 11:17 AM
Could anyone tell me about Old Town Alexandria? Was electricity on in Old Town yesterday (Saturday)? I'm also wondering about today. Thanks!
Beth Lawton (Editor) July 01, 2012 at 11:19 AM
Good morning! An update on all areas (including Old Town Alexandria) is available here: http://annandale.patch.com/articles/more-than-290-000-without-power-sunday-morning-in-nova? Old Town wasn't really hit nearly as hard as other parts of Alexandria, and power was on in most of Old Town yesterday morning. I don't know whether it was out overnight Friday night. I didn't see a huge amount of debris, either, when we were there.
Linda Seaton July 01, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Prince William County stores, restaurants, and gas stations are open.
BBurns July 01, 2012 at 05:48 PM
Dulles Town Center stayed open all night Saturday as a shelter, place to charge cell phones, etc. Pets welcome in carriers. Not sure of the status today (Sunday). http://www.shopdullestowncenter.com/news/yes-we-are-open-click-here-for-details/2129979127
Karen Goff July 01, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Thanks for the info, Beth!
BBurns July 01, 2012 at 11:44 PM
You're welcome. They only had about 25 people last night and are asking people to spread the word. From their Facebook page (and you don't need to have a Facebook account to read it): http://www.facebook.com/DullesTownCenter
Leslie Perales Loges July 02, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Dulles Town Center is serving as a cooling shelter again tonight overnight for anyone who needs to cool down. Pets are welcome if they're in crates/carriers! http://www.facebook.com/DullesTownCenter/posts/496282793722028
Elizabeth Ann Lovic July 03, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Excellent idea to check on eachother, this storm, by all that I have read was a monster, leaving so many affected in it's wake - take care and God Bless - we are all thinking about you ...

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