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Storms knock out power to thousands in Philly region and disrupt SEPTA rail lines — but they do rout the smoke

A smoke-less Thursday might well be one of the finest days of the summer.

Pedestrians shield from the rain with umbrellas on Wednesday. The storms pounded Montgomery County.
Pedestrians shield from the rain with umbrellas on Wednesday. The storms pounded Montgomery County.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

Another round of potent storms and powerful winds took down trees and power lines Wednesday evening, pounded parts of the Philadelphia region with inch-diameter hail, delayed trains on just about all SEPTA Regional Rail lines, and knocked out power to nearly 80,000 utility customers.

But they did manage to scrub away some of the Western wildfire smoke that has haunted the skies over Philadelphia and much of the nation the last two days, and the region might well experience a smokeless Thursday.

“That’s the one positive,” said Nicholas Carr, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly.

The weather service posted numerous reports of downed trees, including one near the Pennsylvania Turnpike at Fort Washington, and hail reports were common on both sides of the river.

» READ MORE: Smoke from the Pacific Northwest wildfires lingers over Philly — and much of the nation

The storms inconveniently materialized right before the peak of the afternoon commute and put the brakes on SEPTA’s trains with systemwide delays.

“It’s pretty much every Regional Rail line,” said Kelly Green, a SEPTA spokesperson.

Once again the ferocity was highly localized, with areas of Montgomery County particularly hard-hit with storms that produced hail about the size of quarters.

“They were the big losers of the day,” said Carr.

» READ MORE: Western wildfire smoke is causing some of Philly’s worst air pollution in years. Can COVID masks help?

By early evening, something resembling blueness had reappeared in the sky, and with the front that set off the fireworks due to cross the region during the night, the blue should deepen.

The forecast is calling for Thursday to be one of the finest days of the summer, with highs in the 80s, low humidity, and not so much as an air quality alert.