Sunday, July 1, 2012

Heat wave: 13 dead, 3 million lose power in Mid-Atlantic storms

Melanie Mason and Laura J. Nelson in the Los Angeles Times: The violent storms that ripped through the eastern United States left at least 13 people dead and millions without power on a day when temperatures hovered in the triple digits. The Mid-Atlantic region had already been baking in 100-plus-degree heat when lightning storms and winds of up to 80 mph tore through the area Friday night. On Saturday, crews worked to fix broken traffic signals, repair utility poles and restore power — and air conditioning — to more than 3 million people.

The high-speed winds are called a derecho, from the Spanish word for "straight ahead" — a long, bow-shaped band of storms that can hurtle across more than 240 miles in a matter of hours. The violent weather was blamed for 13 deaths, including six in Virginia; two in New Jersey; two in Maryland and one each in Kentucky, Ohio and Washington, according to the Associated Press. The dead included a 90-year-old Virginia woman who was sleeping when a tree fell on her house, and young cousins who were camping when their tent was crushed by a tree. At least 20 people were injured, according to the National Weather Service.

The governors of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Ohio, as well as local officials in Washington, declared states of emergency. Such declarations clear the way for officials to seek financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other relief organizations. Officials said it could take utility companies days to restore power to the nine states affected, as far west as Indiana....

An old EPA photo

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