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Winds tear off roofs, tip a rig in Eastern Panhandle

February 11, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Winds gusting to more than 60 mph in the Eastern Panhandle Sunday tore roofs off buildings, uprooted signs and blew a tractor-trailer over on Interstate 81, according to emergency dispatchers.

The high winds were followed by plunging temperatures and school officials in Berkeley County Sunday night said schools will be delayed this morning for two hours, said Berkeley County Schools spokeswoman Jaimee Borger.

Temperatures were possibly going to dip to around 11 degrees this morning and Superintendent of Schools Manny Arvon was worried about children having to be outside in the brutal weather, Borger said.

Schools in Jefferson and Morgan counties also were on a two-hour delay, Borger said.

Winds were clocked as high as 62 mph in the Martinsburg area Sunday, said Calvin Meadows, meteorological technician with the National Weather Service.

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The high winds blew a tractor-trailer over at the one-mile marker near the Virginia line on I-81 at 4:05 p.m., although the driver was not seriously hurt, a 911 dispatcher said.

A sign next to the Holiday Inn Express motel off the Falling Waters, W.Va., exit along I-81 was uprooted and fell on the building, the dispatcher said. Some people were evacuated from rooms as a precaution, the dispatcher said.

In Bunker Hill, W.Va., pieces of a billboard were blown off and landed on U.S. 11, officials said.

In Jefferson County, winds tore off a roof over gas pumps at a Rocs convenience store beside Independent Fire Co. in Ranson, W.Va. Roofs were peeled back on a home on High Street in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and one in Ranson, dispatchers said.

As of 11 p.m., Allegheny Power's online Outage Management System showed 1,168 Jefferson County, W.Va., customers without power; 573 Berkeley County, W.Va., customers without power; 168 Franklin County, Pa., customers without power; and 61 Washington County customers without power. All were expected to have power restored by this evening.

- Staff writer Heather Keels contributed to this report.

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