Gusty winds cause power outages

January 13, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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Winds gusts — some reaching more than 50 mph — left hundreds of Butler County residents without power Sunday morning.

“Trees and wires were downed in various parts of the county,” a dispatcher for the county's communication center said just before noon. He noted that the “middle of the night” is when much of the damage occurred.

Peak wind gusts Saturday reached 56 mph at the Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport, according to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

In the aftermath, about 2,000 electrical outages were reported countywide. Utility crews for West Penn Power and the Central Electric Cooperative worked around the clock Sunday to restore service.

Volunteer firefighters were also kept busy with weather-related calls.

“We had calls for trees and wires down on Route 8 by the Rock House (bar) in Clay Township and on Hall Road in Clay Township,” said Reid Campbell, assistant chief of the West Sunbury Volunteer Fire Department.

Fire crews were also called to East State Street in West Sunbury for a damaged power line.

A large tree snapped the top of a pole, Campbell said, and brought down a transformer, causing a large outage for the small borough.

“It's not a big town,” he said, “but a third of the town was without power for several hours.”

The timber fell hard in Penn Township, too.

Stepland Road was closed early Sunday morning after a large pine tree pulled down power lines in front of the Colonial Gardens care home, said Penn Township police Sgt. Jack Ripper.

Barricades were placed on opposite ends of the road, which was still closed at 4 p.m. Sunday.

A large tree brought down wires across driveways on Oak Ridge Drive, and trees toppled onto Crisswell and Monroe roads in the township, Ripper said.

By 5 p.m. Sunday, West Penn Power officials said there were approximately 445 customers — including 166 of them in Eau Claire and 158 in Venango Township — still without service in the county. Only three members of the Central Electric Cooperative did not have power just after 5 p.m.

The forecast over the next few days is calling for relatively calm winds and higher than usual temperatures for Butler County.

For Monday, the weather service said, expect mostly cloudy skies with a high near 50 and winds around 5 mph. The low Monday night will be around 33.

A chance of showers, mainly before 1 p.m. is on tap for Tuesday. Later in the day it will turn partly sunny with a high near 55. The wind will be around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Meanwhile in other weather news, a record high temperature in Pittsburgh was recorded Saturday. The high was 70, which topped the previous high of 68 set in 1890.

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Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Grew up in upstate New York. Earned my Journalism degree in 1983 from the University of Texas at Austin. Worked for two newspapers in Fayette County (Pa.) before starting at the Butler Eagle in 1998.