Harford County was prepared to take hits Thursday from what were expected to be a series of fast moving storms that didn't approach their feared intensity.
Aside from some periods of heavy rain in the morning and late afternoon, by 6 p.m. Thursday the county appeared to have dodged any major wind or water damage or the associated traffic accidents and injuries that come from them. There were no tornado warnings or watches like earlier in the week.
Though the skies over Bel Air literally did get dark as night around 9 a.m., the sun shone brightly over the county seat for most of the late morning and afternoon.
Not that county officials weren't concerned. With the forecast calling for heavy rain, high winds, hail and other severe conditions, residents were advised by emergency operations officials on Wednesday to be prepared for power outages, flooded roads and falling trees and advised to limit travel, if possible.
What turned out to be a first round of storms passed through Harford County without any serious incidents, although the pitch-black sky and pouring rain and winds greeted many work-bound commuters
A shed in Jarrettsville was reportedly struck by lightning, but units investigated and cleared the scene, county spokesman Bob Thomas said in the afternoon.
"It didn't turn out to be anything serious," Rich Gardiner, spokesman for the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association, said.
The county's emergency operations center got two more storm-related calls in the morning.
County employees, who were not in critical positions, were put on liberal leave at 1 p.m. School employees were dismissed at 1:30 p.m., spokeswoman Teri Kranefeld said, and all afternoon and evening activities were canceled.
Some minor flooding, as well as downed wires, were reported throughout in the area. County emergency radio broadcasts, however, were noticeably quiet for much of the afternoon.
The heaviest part of the storm – including potential high winds and thunder squalls – had been forecast to hit the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. areas from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. before moving out completely.
Chris Birchfield, of the National Weather Service's Baltimore/Washington office, said around 4 p.m. that "numerous reports" of funnel clouds had come from Montgomery County during the preceding 30 minutes.
For Harford County, the storm was expected to track to the east and northeast and bring heavy rain to the southern region of the county, below I-95, Birchfield said.
Flash flooding was also still possible from the storm and officials warned residents to be prepared for widespread power outages. A flash flood watch remained in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday.