Friday seemed full of atmospheric drama. And routine, too.


Friday in many ways replicated conditions that may almost be routine for summer in Washington: steamy 90-degree heat, an afternoon and evening of darkly ominous clouds, sudden deluges, strong winds and waterlogged inconvenience.

Disruption was widespread aloft and on the ground. Roads flooded. Thousands of homes and businesses lost power. Trees toppled, and lightning flashed.

Friday provided what in summer we may recognize as common. But many may have looked with new wariness and heightened respect Friday at the release of pent-up atmospheric energies inherent in summer evenings.

That caution may have been a consequence of the tragedy that struck Thursday, when many of the same conditions present Friday led to three deaths after a lightning strike across the street from the White House.

But on Friday those conditions reverted to our standard summertime routine, perhaps unwelcome but fortunately not tragic.

Before the storms appeared, the mercury in Washington reached 94 degrees. It was the fourth consecutive 90-degree day.

The string started Tuesday, the second day of the month, and it meant we in Washington had entered August in a Washington way: with a heat wave.

That ample heat and the day’s plentiful humidity became ingredients for storms that in spots produced rainy torrents. Water backed up on low-lying roads and streets, blocking traffic and requiring cars that made it through to throw up waves worthy of a seagoing vessel.

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