Severe storm makes for chaotic rush hour


A severe thunderstorm that passed through Alexandria at roughly 4p.m. yesterday left dozens of trees down across the city, taking out powerlines and blocking parts of many city streets.

Downedtrees blocked portions of the George Washington Memorial Parkway in bothdirections for a time, but radio reports said the northbound section hadreopened by 6:30 p.m.

Thecity government opened its emergency operations center by early evening tomanage the response to the severe weather, according to city spokesman TonyCastrilli.

Theresbeen extensive tree damage throughout the city, Castrilli said.

Atthis time were asking people to stay off the roads and only drive if necessaryto allow emergency vehicles access to the roads and begin to clear downedtrees, he added.

Atabout 6 p.m. there were 23,000 locations in Alexandrian without power, Castrillisaid. The outages left many Old Town businesses in the dark and also knockedout traffic signals in the eastern reaches of the city.

Asof about 6:30 p.m., Virginia Dominion Powers website reported more than 66,000customers without power in Northern Virginia. A map showed the highestconcentration in Alexandria and the immediate vicinity.

Customerswithout power can call Virginia Dominion at 1-866-366-4357 to report an outage.

Residentstravelling city thoroughfares blocked by trees can call the Alexandria PoliceDepartment at 703-836-4444.