Eastern U.S. storms kill 13

Posted: July 01, 2012

WASHINGTON - Millions across the Mid-Atlantic region sweltered Saturday in the aftermath of violent storms that pummeled the eastern United States with high winds and downed trees, killing at least 13 people and leaving three million without power during a heat wave.

Power officials said the outages wouldn't be repaired for several days to a week, likening the damage to a serious hurricane. Emergencies were declared in Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, the District of Columbia and Virginia, where Gov. Bob McDonnell said the state had its largest non-hurricane outage in history, as more storms threatened. "This is a very dangerous situation," the governor said.

In West Virginia, 232 Amtrak passengers spent Friday night on a train that was blocked by trees that fell on the tracks, and they were waiting for buses to pick them up Saturday. And in Illinois, storm damage forced the transfer of dozens of maximum-security, mentally ill inmates to another prison.

In some Virginia suburbs of Washington, emergency 911 call centers were out of service; residents were told to call local police and fire departments. Huge trees fell across streets in Washington, leaving cars crunched up next to them, and onto the fairway at the AT&T National golf tournament in Maryland.

The power outages were especially dangerous because they left the region without air-conditioning in oppressive heat. Temperatures soared to highs in the mid-90s in Baltimore and Washington, where it had hit 104 on Friday.

The storm did damage from Indiana to New Jersey, although the bulk of it was in West Virginia, Washington, and suburban Virginia and Maryland. At least six of the dead were killed in Virginia, including a 90-year-old woman asleep in bed when a tree slammed into her home.

Two young cousins in New Jersey were killed when a tree fell on their tent while camping at Parvin State Park. Two were killed in Maryland, one in Ohio, one in Kentucky, and one in Washington.

The storm that whipped through the region Friday night was called a derecho, a straight-line wind storm that sweeps over a large area at high speed. It can produce tornado-like damage.

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