Thunderstorms rip through Harford Tuesday, Wednesday

Darlington resident Jackie Curry estimates she was "about four seconds from death" Tuesday evening when a tree fell on her property and nearly crushed her while she was on her riding mower.

Bands of fast moving thunderstorms accompanied by high winds ripped through Harford County Tuesday night and late Wednesday afternoon, downing trees, knocking out power to thousands and contributing to several motor vehicle accidents.


The greatest amount of damage from both storms involved fallen trees.

Curry, 80, was cutting the grass on the 13-acre property along Nobles Mill Road she and her husband Franklin have lived on for more than 50 years when she saw dark clouds gathering.


"The wind started blowing, and it was actually pushing my Dixie Chopper sort of to the side," she said.

Curry drove toward her house, and she was underneath a tree when she heard a "crackling."

Her son was there, and he told her, "Mom, don't stop, hurry, hurry!"

"I get just past the tree, it falls, and one giant limb almost gets my elbow," Curry said.


She said the tree fell and caused serious damage to her English flower garden. She was thankful the tree fell in the garden and not toward her house, where it would have taken out part of the kitchen.

"It was exciting," she said of the storm. "The wind was unreal; we've got tree branches all over our property."

A large tree fell on the property of Fidelity Exterminating Specialists in the 3600 block of Churchville Road near Aberdeen as a result of Tuesday's storm.

Lindsay Cox, the operations manager, said Wednesday that she received a message about the fallen tree Tuesday night.

"I was happy to see that it didn't hit anything," she said.

Cox said the business, which is owned by her father Bernie, was closed when the storm came through, and they were open for regular business Wednesday.

The tree did not cause any damage, and Cox said it was lying on the grass.

"It's not really in the way of anything right now," she said.

Trees were also reported down in Havre de Grace and elsewhere in the eastern Harford and western Cecil counties.

Gone in a flash

Wednesday's storm hit central Bel Air at 4:30 p.m., dropping buckets of rain, as the accompanying wind rattled windows and made driving visibility nil.

But just as fast as the rain and wind came, it was gone from the downtown area in barely 15 minutes.

Several reports of wires down or on fire were reported on the county's emergency radio network at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, including a transformer on fire in Fallston.

An accident on reported Carrs Mill Road near Grafton Shop Road west of Bel Air involved a downed tree limb. Emergency Harford County road crews did not get the section of Carrs Mill reopened until after 8 p.m.

No serious injuries

Though there were numerous reports of trees and limbs being blown down, no series injuries were reported either Wednesday or Tuesday.

Baltimore Gas & Electric reported about 750 of its 101,000 Harford County customers did not have power around 9 a.m. Thursday, with the largest number concentrated north of Bel Air. The company said it had restored more than 20,000 customers since Tuesday night.

About 14,000 BGE customers and more than 400 Delmarva Power customers were affected by Tuesday's storm that struck around 7 p.m.

Rachael Lighty, a spokeswoman for BGE, said via e-mail that about 13,000 Harford customers had their power restored as of 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Delmarva Power spokesman Nick Morici said about four Harford County customers remained without power as of Wednesday afternoon but all were restored as of Thursday morning.

Harford County Department of Emergency Services spokesman Robert Thomas said portions of seven county roads were closed Tuesday because of fallen trees and power lines, and Thomas Run Road between Pennington Road and Cool Spring Road, near Harford Community College, remained closed Wednesday as BGE workers repaired fallen wires.

Thomas said Thursday morning another six or seven roads were closed Wednesday evening because of downed trees or wires, but all had reopened except Bottom Road in Fallston, between Laurel Brook Road and the Baltimore County line, which remained closed because of downed wires.

Thomas said wind gusts of over 50 mph were reported around the county during Wednesday storms.

Brian Lasorsa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said .28 inches of rain fell near Bel Air, and wind guts of up to 60 mph were estimated in Edgewood during the Tuesday night storms.

"It was heavy, but it was quick-moving," he said of the rain.

Lasorsa noted the storm was larger than a typical summer thunderstorm, with a "squall line" that extended from West Virginia to the Philadelphia region.

He said the storm consisted of "very unstable atmosphere with windy conditions."

Thomas said late-afternoon and early-evening summer thunderstorms are common in Harford County.

"The Harford County Department of Emergency Service would strongly recommend that families and businesses review their emergency preparations," he said.