The power line of rare February thunderstorms, which spawned tornadoes in southern Maryland, blew through the UpCounty last night knocking down trees and knocking out power along Ridge Road and in neighborhoods in Damascus.
The storms blew through the area shortly before 6:00 pm with wind gusts over 60 miles-per-hour, a wind gust of 70 mph was tracked at 5:49 pm at the headquarters of WeatherBug near I-270 and Father Hurley Boulevard in Germantown, according to The Iowa Environmental Mesonet which collects environmental data from cooperating members with observing networks.
The winds knocked down trees and power lines in the Cedar Grove area. First Energy reported about 500 customers without power near Oak Drive and Kingstead Road in Damascus shortly after the storm passed, and as of the time of this posting, 4:30 pm, there were still 20 customers in the are of Ridge Road and Davis Mill Road that did not have power.
A very large tree was snapped and mangled in front of the Cedar Grove Store and gas station on Rt. 27, and a little further north on Ridge Road, numerous trees were snapped or split in the wooded area behind Cedar Grove Elementary School.
Montgomery County Fire Rescue units responded to reports of wires and trees down along Kings Valley Road in Damascus. The winds seemed to blow right along Ridge Road, snapping tree branches and trunks alike. Strong wind and already saturated soil — the result days of rain and melting snow – combined to uproot many trees in the areas.
A number of residents on Kings Valley Road, east of Ridge Road, had parts of their fences blown over by the winds or knocked over by falling trees. On Thursday morning, crews from Montgomery County Parks were working to remove large branches and trees at Damascus Regional Park on Kings Valley Road.
One neighborhood that felt the full brunt of the winds was the townhouses on Sir Barton Circle in Damascus. A tree in front of Max Dement’s unit at 10832 Sir Barton Circle was ripped apart. He said he came home from work to find the tree strewn across his front walk and making it impossible for his next-door neighbors to use their front door. Dement said other than some damage to the rainwater gutter on his roof, damage was minimal. “Insurance will take care of it, thankfully nobody was injured,” said Dement.
Dement said that crews from Montgomery County public services, equipped with backhoes and dump trucks, were at the Damascus neighborhood by 8:00 am to begin removing the down trees and debris.
“It was intense,” said Lisa Bengtson, who lives around the Sir Barton Circle from where the tree fell in front of Max Dement’s unit. “It shook the doors and windows, but within five minutes it was all over. But we could see that so many the trees in the wooded area behind us were no longer standing.”
Indeed, the wooded area between Sir Barton Circle and Hunters Chase Lane showed numerous trees uprooted or simply snapped off at the trunk.
She said that she could hear the trees outside cracking during the height of the winds. “We had the steady wall of rain, and then between 5:50 pm and 6:00 pm the sky went almost white-green. The air changed. It was eerie. The humidity seemed to increase, and we heard what seemed like a big wall of something moving towards the house. I grabbed my teenager and headed into the basement. The house shook, so bad.”
Bengtson said that her family installed brand new windows a few months ago, and the sounded like they were whistling. “It sounded like a train whistle. It shook for about three to five minutes. And it after that it became still, and it was just a thunderstorm,” she said.
While the storms did cause property damage and havoc in the Damascus area, MCFRS reported no injuries due to storm damage or trees coming down.
Top: Damascus resident Max Dement came home from work to find the tree in front of his house was split in two by the winds last night. The tee also took rain-gutter from the front of the townhouse.
Next: There were many houses along Ridge Road in the Cedar Grove area that had downed trees.
Next: This large tree in front of the Cedar Grove Store and gas station was snapped and mangled.
Next: Residents of Sir Barton Circle felt the full power of last night’s storms. The top of the tree from Max Dement’s unit blocks the front door of his neighbor’s townhouse.
Next: This large evergreen tree near the playground on Sir Barton Circle was snapped off six-feet up the trunk.
Next: The street sign at the corner of Kings Valley Road and Glad Valley Terrace was blown over by the winds as was some of the fencing of the house at the corner.
Next: Crews from Montgomery County Parks clean up debris from down trees and branches in Damascus Regional Park off Kings Valley Road.
Next: In the foreground on is an evergreen tree near Lisa Bengtson’s townhouse on Sir Barton Circle, it was snapped off at the trunk, in the woods in the background lay a host of other trees uprooted by the winds.
Next: Trees snapped off or blown down in the wooded area behind Cedar Grove Elementary School. Photo by Mike Moxley.
All other photos by Germantown Pulse.