VIRGINIA (WJHL) – A prolonged period of high wind punctuated by gusts of more than 50 mph is bringing trees and limbs down onto power lines and causing significant power outages in parts of Virginia and West Virginia.
Appalachian Power sent out a press release stating that the winds began Wednesday afternoon in the company’s West Virginia service area and are sweeping eastward into parts of the company’s Virginia service area.
“Gusts exceeding 50 mph are expected to continue well after dark in many areas,” the release read. “High winds are affecting a large geographic area and other utilities around Appalachian Power are also experiencing significant outages.”
As of 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, around 12,500 customers in West Virginia and another 2,000 in Virginia were without electric service as a result of wind damage.
Additional outages are likely to occur while winds remain strong and gusty, the release stated.
Company and contract storm response workers are assessing the damage and making repairs in their local areas.
“Crews have made good progress restoring outages as they have occurred today, though persistent winds have continued to create additional outages,” the release read.
Company officials plan to move workers from less-damaged areas to more heavily-damaged areas once local outages are cleared.
The release said that additional assistance is also being secured from outside the company’s service area.
Continued high winds are hampering efforts to assess and repair the damage, the release continued. Workers cannot safely make repairs from extended buckets in wind speeds in excess of 30 mph, and cannot safely work in forested areas where high wind gusts are still bringing down trees and limbs.
Specific restoration estimates will not be available until the weather passes and the full extent of damage is known, the release read. However, it is almost certain some outages will extend into Friday in areas with extensive damage.
Wind storms can cause many downed power lines. Customers should treat all downed lines as live power lines and stay away from them.
Never touch downed power lines or sparking equipment. Keep children and pets away from fallen lines and anything the lines may touch.