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Thursday's storms bring reported tornadoes, but no widespread destruction

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Local,DC,Maryland,Virginia,Liz Essley,Metro and Traffic,Weather

Two tornadoes were reported in Montgomery County, and tens of thousands of area residents lost power. But for much of the Washington region, Thursday's storm -- and the frenzy leading up to it -- turned out to be nothing but sound and fury.

Residents reported funnel clouds near Olney and Laurel, but the National Weather Service could not confirm tornadoes' existence Thursday evening.

Government officials issued warnings to Washington-area residents to take shelter from the threat of tornadoes, and authorities at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport ushered passengers to the lowest level of the airport or the bathrooms.

Flights were grounded at all three of the region's airports as the winds gusted.

Residents later shared pictures of the storm's damage, with trees and wires down across Montgomery County.

Residents also reported 1-inch hail near College Park, as well as baseball-sized hail in St. Mary's County. Prince George's County resident Miika Spray, who lives near College Park, took cover at home and heard hail pounding the roof.

"It was loud. ... It was solid stuff hitting our roof," Spray said. "The storm was very fast and very intense and came out almost as fast as it came in."

Approximately 41,000 Pepco customers lost power, most of them in Montgomery County, a spokesman for the utility said. More than 22,000 Dominion Virginia Power customers were in the dark, most of them in Fairfax and Loudoun counties.

At least three trees crashed across streets in the District, blocking traffic. Maryland closed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge just as evening rush hour began, with the threat of strong winds.

Metro slowed its Red Line trains for about 20 minutes so they would have a better chance to stop for trees or other falling debris, spokeswoman Morgan Dye said.

Students in Fairfax County weren't allowed to leave school until the storm passed about 4 p.m. Frederick County and Prince George's County students were dismissed early, and Montgomery College's Rockville campus closed early.

But in much of D.C., the storm that some forecasters said could be as bad as last June's derecho turned out to be gusts of wind and rain. Pedestrians scampered to shelter, and rain-soaked bicyclists pedaled through the wind. At least one pink umbrella turned inside out on K Street NW as trees tossed.

lessley@washingtonexaminer.com

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