Severe storms Friday night left more than 534,000 Dominion Power customers in the dark in Northern Virginia, caused major damage and injured an unknown number of people.
According to the National Weather Service, the line of storms carried destructive winds in excess of 80 mph. Measured wind gusts include 71 mph at Washington Dulles International Airport and 70 mph at Reagan National Airport.
The weather service has received numerous reports of downed trees and power lines. A severe thunderstorm watch for Northern Virginia remains in effect until 1 a.m.
Mary Ann Jennings, Fairfax County police spokeswoman, said power outages have affected police stations and the county's public safety dispatch center. Emergency responders have received reports of dotwn trees, power lines and injuries, she said.
"It's not good, and we're trying to get to the most severe and serious cases first," she said.
Jennings said the county has already received 25 reports of trees that fell onto houses or vehicles.
"It's going to be a long night," she said.
NBC Washington is reporting that the National Weather Service reported a tree fell on a car in Springfield, killing one person inside. Jennings said she could not immediately confirm the report.
The police department posted on Twitter that police are also working a fatality that occurred when a tree fell into a house on Carr Place in Springfield.
Shortly before midnight, Dominion spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson did not have county- and city-specific data immediately available. "We just have so many outages," Anderson said.
Outage reports are still coming in, she said. It could be hours before Dominion is able to give its customers an accurate restoration time.
"They're still outages that are coming in," Anderson said. "They are brand new outages. And what our crews are telling us is that as they get lights back on in one location, they go out somewhere else. So I expect we'll have outages until the storm passes through our service area.
"And once the storm passes and it's safe for our crews to go out and patrol, we'll do a thorough assessment of what the damage is. And only after we do that can we give good restoration times."
Oftentimes, people assume the electric company knows about an outage and then don't report it, Anderson said. No one should make that assumption.
"These next several hours are going to be very crucial. And reporting the outage is an important part of that process," she said.
Report power outages to Dominion at 866-366-4357.
At 11:38 p.m., Metro advised it was continuing to experience delays on all rail and bus lines and advised people to travel "only if necessary."
Dominion has offered the following safety tips for residets who have lost power:
- Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to appliances and possible overloads to the company's system when power is restored.
- Listen to your local radio station on your car or battery-powered radio for regular news and weather updates. Don't rely on your neighbors to report your outage.
- Post a list of contents on your freezer door to minimize the number of times you open it.
- Leave one lamp or light on so you will be able to recognize when power is restored.
- If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.
- Stay away from fallen wires, flooded areas and debris. Treat all fallen wires and anything touching them as though they are energized.
- Follow safe operating procedures for generators. Never operate one inside your home or in an enclosed space, such as a garage.
- Plugging a generator into a regular household outlet can energize "dead" power lines and injure neighbors or utility workers. Customers should connect individual appliances that have their outdoor-rated power cords directly to the receptacle outlet of the generator, or connect these cord-connected appliances to the generator with the appropriate outdoor-rated power cord having a sufficient wire gauge to handle the electrical load.
- Exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide and can be deadly, so run your generator outside with proper ventilation. Store the fuel for your generator safely.
- Visually inspect the area around your electricity meter. If you detect or suspect any damage, call 1-866-DOM-HELP.
McLean Patch editor Bobbi Bowman also contributed to this report.