Local residents hit hard by superstorm
Posted: October 30, 2012
The Winchester Star
WINCHESTER — With thousands of people in the area already without power by 10 p.m. Monday, a meteorologist for the region said the worst was still to come from Hurricane Sandy.
Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties were grappling with heavy rain, downed power lines, fallen trees and flooding as the wind howled at speeds of up to 60 mph.
No weather-related injuries, however, had been reported in the area.
Heather Sheffield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, said in a phone interview Monday night that heavy rain and gusty winds would continue well into today.
“Overnight tonight is going to be the worst,” she said of the superstorm.
She added that outages were still a threat for those lucky enough to still have electricity.
As of 11:45 p.m., Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) was reporting 3,116 outages in Frederick County, 96 in Winchester and one in Clarke. Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) had 517 outages in Frederick County, 74 in Stephens City, four in Clarke and two in Middletown.
No outages were reported by REC in Berryville or Boyce.
SVEC was reporting about 550 outages in the Winchester area as of 4 p.m., but that number was reduced to 58 customers an hour later, according to Michael Aulgur, manager of external affairs for the co-op.
Customers served by the co-op’s Hayfield substation, whose service area is west of Winchester and east of Gore, were the primary ones affected.
In a phone interview Monday, Aulgur confirmed that several hundred customers’ power had been restored, but cautioned that the co-op is dealing with a fluid situation and that — because of strong winds being forecast for Monday night and this morning — there could be more outages.
A media release from SVEC late Monday stated that its crews and ones from other cooperatives and contractors were prepared to respond to the outages, and would do so, as weather conditions allow.
Bucket trucks — used to assist in the restoration efforts — cannot operate safely when winds exceed 30 mph, which are forecast to continue late into today.
Most power companies were reported to be at a standstill late Monday night because of the winds.
According to the SVEC release, given the severity of the weather there is a chance for outages to last an extended period of time.
SVEC serves 88,163 customers in Winchester and Frederick, Clarke, Augusta, Highland, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah and Warren counties. It is headquartered in Mount Crawford.
REC, headquartered in Spotsylvania County, serves approximately 155,000 customers in parts of 22 Virginia counties.
Dispatchers stayed busy most of the night Monday with calls for everything from popping transformers to barrels blowing in the streets.
As of about 10:30 p.m., two houses in the city were reported to have had trees fall on them.
A tree went through the roof at one of the homes, but no injuries were reported at either location.
There was also a report of wind damage at a Stephens City home and flooding inside a residence near Gore, according to Frederick County dispatchers.
Across the region, dozens of trees and numerous power lines were reported down along with flying debris in several locations.
A city dispatcher recommended residents stay indoors as much as possible and warned that downed power lines can be hard to see.
Clarke County seemed to be the only area locality spared any major weather incidents, according to its dispatcher.
Road closures were reported Monday night in the city on Massanutten Terrace, between Middle Road and Hockman Avenue; South Braddock Street between Hart and Southwerk streets; North Kent Street between Baker and Elk streets; Bruce Drive near Weaver Park; and Miller Street in the 300 block between Handley High School and Valley Avenue.
Sheffield said Monday night that areas in Frederick and Clarke counties, in addition to Winchester, received at least three inches of rain.
She added that the total would likely rise to between four and six inches by 6 p.m. today. The two-day total would be more than the highest monthly average for the area — 3.65 inches for both May and June.
The overnight forecast Monday called for sustained winds averaging between 30 and 40 mph and gusts between 50 and 65 mph.
Later this morning, winds are forecasted to be sustained at about 35 mph, tapering off by the evening to around 20 to 25 mph — with gusts up to 50 mph. A high wind warning remains in effect through this evening.
“It’s still going to be windy throughout the week,” Sheffield warned, adding that winds will shift Tuesday evening from northwest to southwest.
She said that the high temperature for today will be around 45 degrees.
By 9 p.m. Monday night the temperature in Winchester was 41 degrees.
To report outages, REC customers can call 800-552-3904. Smartphone users can go to the Outage Center on REC’s mobile website and select the Report Outage options.
SVEC customers are asked to call 800-234-7832.
Matt Armstrong of the Winchester Star contributed to this report.
— Contact Melissa Boughton at email@example.com