Powerful storm levels trees and leaves many residents without power

A storm system that gripped much of the East Coast over the weekend continued to drench the Washington, D.C. area on Monday.

Strong winds caused power outages, brought down trees and knocked out traffic signals.

"We had all our crews out today, we even had some contractors helping us," said Chuck Gischlar, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA).

According to a high wind warning issued Monday afternoon by the National Weather Service, sustained winds in the area ran between 25 and 35 miles per hour with gusts as high as 55 to 60 mph. The high wind warning was in effect until Tuesday at 2 a.m.

A tree limb fell near the intersection of River Road and Burdette Road, taking communication lines down with it, said Gischlar.

The westbound lanes of River Road approaching the Beltway interchange were closed for almost five hours on Monday while Verizon crews repaired the downed wires and SHA crews removed the tree, said Blanca Kim, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Police.

"If I could pass along one bit of advice to people it would be to never, ever take a chance of crossing a live [power] wire," said Gischlar. "Just be very careful around wires and debris and large branches."

Work crews continued to remove the tree on Tuesday morning, occupying the far right westbound lane of River Road just before the Beltway interchange.

Downed power lines also knocked out many traffic signals around Potomac on Monday afternoon. Police directed traffic for most of Monday afternoon at the intersections of River and Seven Locks roads and at the River Road and Beltway interchange until power to the signals was restored, said Kim.

Another tree fell at the intersection of Newbridge Drive and Bentcross Drive and damaged nearby power lines. The road was blocked off on Monday afternoon while crews worked to clear the road and repair the lines.

The high wind caused roughly 58,000 power outages in Pepco's service areas through Maryland and Wasington, D.C. between Sunday and Tuesday, said Bob Dobkin, a spokesperson for Pepco. Debbie Jarvis, also a spokesperson for Pepco, said that outages in Potomac ranged from 1,000 to 2,000 at any given time during the afternoon.

"It's a very fluid situation," said Jarvis. "We restore, it goes out, it's just all over the place."