A microburst featuring strong winds during Saturday evening thunderstorms damaged at least 10 houses in an Annapolis neighborhood, fire department officials and meteorologists said.
Nobody was injured, though one person was displaced from their home, said Capt. Russ Davies, Anne Arundel County fire spokesman.
Baltimore Gas and Electric had to temporarily discontinue power for 52 customers so that utility workers could safely clear trees from lines, said Richard Yost, a BGE spokesperson. Their service has since been restored.
Davies said firefighters were called out to the Ferry Farms neighborhood on the lower Broadneck peninsula around 5:45 p.m. for reports of a tree down on an electrical wire.
When crews arrived in the 1900 block of Baltimore Annapolis Boulevard, Davies said it was immediately evident that the damage was more extensive.
He said that 10 to 12 houses situated along Ferry Farms, Homewood and Elmwood roads sustained structural damage. “Some of them had trees on them. Some of them had electrical service down.”
The National Weather Service is attributing the damage, caused by straight-line winds, to a weather event known as microburst, said Meteorologist Brian LaSorsa.
Microbursts occur when air sinks during thunderstorms of a certain size, LaSorsa said. “(Cool air) rushes down to the surface and hits the ground and spreads out.”
LaSorsa said data from two National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buoys stationed near Eastport and the Bay Bridge tracked wind gusts of more than 50 mph, though the wind could’ve been stronger in the area of the damage, “particularly right when that microburst hit the ground.”
Firefighters called for backup from county building inspectors and the fire department’s collapse team, a specialized unit that stabilizes structures to prevent additional collapses.
Fire crews finished up at the scene around 9 p.m., he said.
County road crews arrived in Ferry Farms around 6 p.m. and remained in the community until 4 a.m. Sunday, clearing trees and debris from several roads that had been blocked, said Matt Diehl, spokesman for the county’s Department of Public Works.
Many of the limbs and debris were too big to remove without heavy equipment, Diehl said. “We needed a loader and a backhoe.”
The county’s Office of Emergency Management also checked in with responding officers to ensure that they could handle the situation.
Spokesperson Kasey Thomas said one person was sent to the scene to take photos and record information for their records, but other than that no assistance was needed.
Thomas said they were keeping in constant contact to make sure there were no sheltering needs, which the Office of Emergency Management could have helped with.