Wind pulls plug for thousands in area

February 26, 1998|By LISA GRAYBEAL

Wind pulls plug for thousands in area

More than 2,000 Washington County residents and businesses were without power part of the day Wednesday when tree limbs snagged on electrical wires and lines shorted out in high winds, according to Allegheny Power officials.

"The winds have just been incredible," said Midge Teahan, Allegheny Power corporate communications team leader.

The power outage also shut down pumps at Hagerstown's R.C. Willson Water Treatment Plant near Williamsport for two to 2 1/2 hours, said Water Department Manager Gene Walzl.

The city was able to supply its roughly 75,000 customers with water from the West End Reservoir and water pumped in from the city's William M. Breichner Water Treatment Plant south of Smithsburg, Walzl said.


Some customers noticed muddy water in the system when the outage occurred because the water from the Breichner plant was pumped further into the city than usual, he said.

The water was discolored because of turbulence created by water changing direction from easterly to westerly, Walzl said.

In the past two days, nearly 19,000 customers in the electric company's service areas in Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia have been without power - some for as short as 10 minutes and others as long as four hours, Teahan said.

About 940 customers near Huyetts Crossroads, the intersection of U.S. 40 and Md. 63, lost power around 11 a.m. It was restored at 1:30 p.m., Teahan said.

In Williamsport and Clear Spring, 1,400 customers were without power from 12:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., Teahan said.

"The only thing we can conclude is that the high winds blew something into the lines" like a tree branch, or that the lines blew together, Teahan said.

About 1,800 customers in Pennsylvania's Franklin and Fulton counties lost electricity for a short time on Tuesday, she said.

In Cumberland, Md., about 1,100 customers didn't have power for about an hour Wednesday morning, Teahan said.

Seven Antietam Cable customers near Clear Spring reported losing their cable television service, a company spokeswoman said. The wind was to blame for the outage, she said.

The service was restored in a short period of time, she said.

Wind gusts of up to 43 mph were recorded around noon Wednesday in Hagerstown, according to information provided by Hagerstown weather observer Greg Keefer.

For most of the day, a steady 11 mph wind blew, gusting at 26 mph, Keefer said.

By early today, winds were expected to diminish to less than 10 mph, according to meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va.

Temperatures today are expected to reach into the mid- to upper 50s under mostly sunny skies.

Rain showers are likely on Friday with temperatures staying in the mid- to upper 50s, according to the National Weather Service.

Staff Writer Julie E. Greene contributed to this story.

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