Powerful thunderstorms fueled by the heat and humidity ripped across Central Maryland yesterday afternoon, with lightning that knocked out power to thousands of homes and winds that tore the roof off a building in South Baltimore.
The National Weather Service received reports of at least two funnel clouds sighted in the Catonsville area, but no tornado touchdown. However, in the 5300 block of Pennington Ave., workers and bystanders speculated that a tornado may have taken the roof off Corrosion Repair & Services Inc. No one was hurt.
Ken Shaver, a National Weather Service forecaster, said wind gusts peaked twice at 59 mph at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, at 5:10 p.m. and 5:13 p.m. Rainfall there was brief and amounted to just .17 of an inch. No rainfall figure was available for Baltimore, where the storm lingered and inundated the downtown area.
The storm barely brushed Carroll County, although lightning struck a house on Sykesville Road north of Gamber about 4 p.m. and caused minor damage, authorities said.
As the storm was hitting Howard County shortly past 4 p.m., one person was killed and two others injured when a car and tractor-trailer collided headon on Interstate 70, just west of Route 32, state police said. Two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of I-70 were closed after the accident.
State Police said Robin Denise Miller, 33, of the 4500 block of Wishal Drive, Baltimore County, was driving a 1990 Honda Accord westbound on I-70 when for an unknown reason she sideswiped another westbound car, crossed the median strip and crashed into an eastbound tractor-trailer driven by Gregg Baranowsky, 36, of Hookstown, Pa.
Police said the driver and her daughter, Jill Miller, 13, also of the Wishal Drive address, were transported to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where the mother later died and her daughter listed in serious but stable condition.
The truck driver was slightly injured.
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. said 32,500 customers lost power because of the storm -- nearly all of them in Baltimore City and Howard and Anne Arundel counties as the storm moved across the region from the west and took a southeasterly path. Monitoring equipment counted about 1,200 lightning strikes.
The storm brought temporary relief from the afternoon heat as temperatures plunged more than 20 degrees from the afternoon highs of 94 in the city and 92 at BWI.