Hurricane Irene liveblog: Campus power taking hits

This is what rain looks like.

Sunday, 2 a.m.: Sorry for the delay — just got back into Commons 7 after a walking tour of campus. It appears all South Campus Commons buildings have lost power, and a fire truck is currently parked in front of Commons 5 — we spotted firefighters going up a stairwell; a student is reportedly stuck in the elevator. Power has gone out on College Avenue, according to a Twitter follower, and the University Club apartments lost power at about 1:15 a.m. As of about 1:30 a.m., the north campus dorms had power.

Even so, reports of glitchy electricity seem to be the only problems. Full report on what we saw around the campus soon, assuming battery power lasts until the power comes back on, but it seems that, for now, the worst is some uprooted trees and a relatively routine power outage.

Sunday, 12:23 a.m.: Facilities Management has told reporter Nick Foley that the entire campus currently has power.

In addition, the rain and wind has gone up from “it is raining” levels to “oh dear I’m scared to look out the window.” Venturing into the torrent with editor Jon Wolper.

Sunday, 12:15 a.m.: After losing power several hours ago, the Courtyards apartments have regained electricity. After briefly going out just before midnight, power has also returned to Commons buildings 3, 6 and 7. Power also went out in Commons 4 but has also returned; no word on the fate of Knox Road, or of reports that lights are flickering on North Hill and in Washington Hall. We’ll get in touch with facilities management and get back to you. If anybody has a friend on North Campus, it would be great to hear from them about what’s going on up there.

Saturday, 11:58 p.m.: As far as we know, the power has just gone out in Commons 3, 6 and 7, and, according to a Twitter follower, a large section of Knox Road. For some miraculous reason the wireless Internet is still up and running (backup generators?), so we can keep blogging until laptop and phone batteries die. Anyone else lose power? Hello?

Saturday, 9:30 p.m.: Reports of power outages in College Park are starting to trickle in — Diamondback reporter Nick Foley has confirmed that all of the Courtyards apartments have lost power, and Twitter users have reported outages near Metzerott and 35th Avenues and near Mom’s Organic Market on Rhode Island Avenue.

It’s not clear what caused the Courtyards outage or when it will be fixed, according to Jack Baker, the director of operations and maintenance for the university’s Department of Facilities Management.

Elsewhere in Prince George’s County, 21,500 customers are now without power, according to the Washington Post, and Gov. Martin O’Malley said in a 9:40 p.m. press briefing that power is down for 158,000 Maryland residents. He also said someone with the Maryland State Police had spotted a tornado touch down in an “unpopulated area” in Wicomico County.

“At this point, the storm is approaching,” O’Malley said, warning that there would be “trees flying around … and power lines coming down.”

An expert at the briefing took the microphone and said that hurricane conditions would be limited in Maryland to the Eastern Shore, but before he could elaborate the Internet feed of the briefing cut out and was replaced with footage of a bill signing ceremony from April.

The campus around 9 p.m. didn’t look to be in particularly bad shape: There isn’t any flooding to speak of on south campus, and we haven’t received any reports of damage elsewhere. McKeldin Mall was a bit swampy, but there was only light rain and wind gusts, nothing like the winds blowing television reporters around the roads in Ocean City.

But that could change in the coming hours, and the winds are picking up — Ocean City is projected to get it much worse than Prince George’s County, but the storm isn’t going to be past the area until around 2 a.m.

As always, if you see anything people should know about, comment here or tweet at us at @theDBK.

Saturday, 6:20 p.m.: The Washington Post is reporting 10,000 homes in Prince George’s County are already without power, and the worst rain and wind won’t arrive in the D.C. area until between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m.

So charge up your phones, guys — it looks like the possible “isolated power outages” predicted by the National Weather Service are coming to fruition before the worst part of our weather even arrives. There are also about 726,000 people without power in Virginia and North Carolina, where the storm is currently moving, Dominion Virginia Power spokeswoman Daisy Pridgen told WUSA9.

If you lose power but want to stay updated, WTOP radio is accessible by calling (202) 380-9977 on any phone.

Saturday, 5:15 p.m.: The rain is coming down pretty hard and the winds are beginning to pick up, but nothing terrifyingly out of the ordinary in College Park. Not the weather that has so far killed two people in Virginia and three in North Carolina, according to reports, but the worst is most certainly still to come for us. College Park Patch editor Shannon Hoffman is already reporting Metzerott Road near Paint Branch Trail is blocked to traffic.

Flooding appears to be a growing concern: Though the county’s tropical storm warning has not changed, the flash flood watch for Prince George’s County was upgraded to a flash flood warning with an immediate urgency by the National Weather Service shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday. The warning states that flash floods have been detected by the National Weather Service in the warned area, which also includes Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties. From the warning:

“Most flood deaths occur in automobiles. Never drive your vehicle into areas where the water covers the roadway. Flood waters are usually deeper than they appear. Just one foot of flowing water is powerful enough to sweep vehicles off the road. When encountering flooded roads make the smart choice. Turn around, don’t drown.”

There you have it: Stay out of your damned car. The delineations between the different hurricane/tropical storm categories are based on wind speed, not rainfall, and the rainfall associated with this storm appears to be through the roof — Hampton, Va. has so far gotten almost 13 inches of the clear wet stuff. But in case you are for some reason wondering, Metro is still operating on schedule, and WUSA9 is reporting that tomorrow should actually turn out to be a nice day — 84 and partly cloudy, if you believe the report given around 5:40 p.m.

If you see anything people should know about, comment here or tweet at us at @theDBK. We’ll be here all night.

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