It's difficult to comprehend the scope of the current power-outs affecting a sizeable portion of the Washington D.C. area, but recent space-based photographs provided by NASA are offering a startling glimpse into the scale of the outages.
These before-and-after images were taken by NASA's Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, showing the geographic distribution of the power outages in Washington and Baltimore. The outages are a result of a freakish, fast-moving storm that swept through the area on Friday, June 29th. NASA offers some insights into the storm and its aftermath:
Extensive power outages in Washington, DC and Baltimore are visible in these images. Clouds obscure the lights of Philadelphia and other areas north and east of Baltimore. Of particular interest is the loss of light to the north and west of Washington, DC along the 270 and 66 interstate highways and Maryland route 267.
Known as a "derecho," the storm combined intense lightning and rain with hurricane-force winds that were upwards of 60 miles per hour (~96.5 kilometers per hour). It killed 22 people and caused some 4.3 million households to lose power for days.
Derecho is the Spanish word for straight and the storm raced from west of Chicago across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.
According to the National Weather Service, the gigantic windstorms of a derecho are as powerful as tornados, but the winds don't twist, instead driving in a straight line. To be classified as a derecho, the swath of wind damage must extend more than 240 miles and the storms are powered by hot, humid weather.
The Washington Post is reporting that more than 155,000 customers, or 8.2% of the region, still had no electricity as of 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday night. It's expected that most of the power will return by the end of the week.