High winds causing power outages in Tri-State area

February 24, 2012|By C.J. LOVELACE |

High winds that have already brought some power outages to the Tri-State area were expected to subside late Friday night, although windy conditions could continue today, forecasters said.

Sustained winds out of the west of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph were expected until a high wind advisory expired at midnight Friday, said meteorologist Heather Sheffield of the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va.

“Winds should start to diminish after midnight,” Sheffield said.

Today’s forecast calls for breezy conditions with winds of 15 to 20 mph and gusts of about 25 mph this afternoon, Sheffield said.

Potomac Edison spokesman John Emerick said there were only five confirmed power outages affecting 13 customers in Maryland as of about 7:50 p.m. Friday as the windstorm approached from the west.

“So far, we’ve been pretty lucky in this part of the state,” Emerick said. “We’re expecting the higher winds between 10 p.m. and midnight (Friday night).”

By 8:30 p.m. Friday, 618 customers in Maryland, 3,979 customers in Pennsylvania and 4,844 customers in West Virginia were without power, according to the Allegheny Power website.

Emerick said the power company had crews ready to respond to outages overnight Friday into Saturday morning.

The Maryland State Highway Administration was also getting ready for the high winds, SHA spokesman Charlie Gischlar said.

“We don’t have a lot coming in this weekend, but there could possibly be significantly high winds tonight,” Gischlar said. “Nobody’s staying overnight, but we have people ready in case there are branches or other debris.”

Power lines in the road and broken traffic lights could be problems after strong winds, Gischlar said.

“Never try to cross power wires in the road,” he said. “And don't assume broken lights become four-way stops because traffic going the other way may not always yield.”

Winds will continue to die down to 8 to 16 mph by tonight, according to the weather service.

Staff Writer Caleb Calhoun contributed to this story.

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