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Thousands lose power in aftermath of storms

July 19, 2006|From Staff reports

TRI-STATE - Motorists resorted to traditional traffic rules in downtown Martinsburg, W.Va., Tuesday evening after a cluster of lightning-filled thunderstorms that popped up in the Tri-State area darkened normally automated signal devices for more than an hour.

About 2,300 Allegheny Power customers in Berkeley County, W.Va., lost power beginning about 6 p.m. and 250 Hedgesville, W.Va., customers still were without service at 9:45 p.m., spokesperson Janice Lantz said.

Emergency officials reported utility lines down in the 1000 block of Bedington Road and along the 2700 block of Hammonds Mill Road in northern Berkeley County. Power lines also were reported damaged along Gail Drive in Gantts mobile home community. An emergency official said a propane tank that ignited at one residence was quickly extinguished and that reports of damage were minimal.

Electricity was restored in downtown Martinsburg about 8:25 p.m.

In Morgan County, W.Va., Warm Springs Run, a stream that runs through Berkeley Springs, was spilling over its banks Tuesday night following heavy rains and hail that pounded the area earlier in the day, a Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Department spokesman said.

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Warm Springs Run was over its banks by Berkeley Springs High School and Berkeley Springs State Park as of 8 p.m. and a flash flood warning was in effect, firefighter Matt Stotler said.

Flash flooding is characterized by quick flooding.

There are businesses and homes along Warm Springs Run but Stotler said he knew of no property damage Tuesday night.

The rain had been falling since about 4:30 p.m., Stotler said.

James Brotherton, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va., said Morgan County received about 4 inches of rain Tuesday, while the NWS received reports of Berkeley Springs being hit with baseball-sized hail. "That's pretty unusual," he said.

Brotherton said there were reports of flash flooding around Berkeley Springs.

He said winds estimated at 60 mph were recorded in Hedgesville in Berkeley County.

Thunderstorms in Franklin and Fulton counties on Tuesday evening left approximately 5,500 Allegheny Power customers without electricity.

The storms also downed live power lines around 6 p.m. on Clayton Avenue near East Fifth Street in Waynesboro, Pa. Clayton Avenue from Third Street to Sixth Street was closed by the Waynesboro Volunteer Fire Department with plans to open that section this morning.

Four hundred power customers served by the Waynesboro center saw their service restored by 9:15 p.m., while 1,500 others remained without power at that time.

"They're estimating it'll be (Wednesday) before we restore service," Lantz said Tuesday night. That outage affected customers in the Franklin County, Pa., communities of Chambersburg, Greencastle, Fayetteville and Waynesboro, she said.

An outage at the McConnellsburg service center left 3,000 customers without power at 9:15 p.m. An additional 500 had their electricity restored by late evening.

The outage from that center primarily affected the St. Thomas and Lemasters area, Lantz said. It was expected to be resolved overnight, she said.

Staff writers Erin Julius, Dave McMillion, Jennifer Fitch and Matthew Umstead contributed to this story.

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