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US storms cut power to millions
Violent winds knock out electricity to over two million people already struggling through an extreme heatwave.
Last Modified: 30 Jun 2012 15:08
In Washington DC, temperatures reached 40C, breaking a record high set 80 years ago [AFP]

As wildfires continue to burn in western parts of the United States, the mid-Atlantic States of the country's east coast have been battling violent storms.

A state of emergency was declared in West Virginia on Friday as hurricane force wind gusts brought down trees and power lines.

Winds of more than 80 mph (128 kph) and heavy rain accompanied by intense lightning tore through the area late on Friday, downing trees and power lines.

As the storms converged on Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC, and Ohio, there were reports of flash flooding.

The violent winds also knocked out power to over two million people, many already struggling to cope with an extreme heatwave.

Virginia was worst hit with around 860,000 homes affected, while about 800,000 customers in Maryland were without power on Saturday.

A woman in northern Virginia was killed when a tree fell on her home.

Restoring power in storm-damaged parts is expected to take as long as five days.

Repairing damage "is a monumental task. This is something that is going to take days, not hours," said Ed McDonough, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Emergency Management.

Record-breaking heat

The severe thunderstorms moved in from the Midwest, fueled by record-breaking heat.

Temperature records for the month of June were broken in Washington, Atlanta and Louisville, Kentucky, where the temperature exceeded 40 Celsius.

The temperature in the capital also beat the previous record of 39C set in 1934.

Extreme heat warnings, affecting around 100 million people have been in place for the last few days across one-third of the country as temperatures soared from the Rocky Mountains, to the Great Plains, and the Eastern Seaboard.

Hot air can hold more moisture than cool air, so, as the temperature soared it allowed huge thunder clouds to develop.

The powerful storms brought with them large hailstones, lightning and wind gusts approaching 130 kph, according to the US National Weather Service.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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