Nor’easter, high winds expected to blow into valley today

A nor’easter will make for a windy weekend in the Shenandoah Valley, and residents are being warned to prepare for possible power outages.

Meteorologist Chris Strong, at the National Weather Service in Sterling, said: “extreme gusts” of up to 60 miles per hour should begin today.

The worst of the winds will occur through this evening and gradually decrease over the weekend, he said. Winds are expected to be between 30 and 40 miles per hour Saturday; between 20 and 25 miles per hour Sunday, with light winds by that evening. Higher elevations along ridge lines could see gusts of up to 70 miles per hour.

The wind will be accompanied by “enough rain to wet the ground,” Strong said. He explained that the nor’easter is a coastal storm that consists of “basically a huge whirlpool in the atmosphere.” While nor’easters are common occurrences through spring, the wind’s strength is not.

“The wind is a once in a few years, if not a once in a many years event,” Strong said.

He added that gusts will be pretty much the same in Shenandoah, Frederick, and Warren counties, and “a big blow for everybody.”

A Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative news release states that power outages are likely, and “blinking lights” may occur. Power restoration may be delayed as high winds present safety issues to SVEC crews in bucket trucks.

“This may increase SVEC’s response time, and the cooperative encourages member-owners to be prepared for extended outages,” the release states.

The cooperative encouraged citizens to prepare power outage kits with: flashlights; batteries; candles or lanterns; matches; a battery-operated radio; an alternate heat source; canned or packaged foods; powdered milk; dry cereal; water; a non-electric can opener; disposable plates and utensils; a camp stove or emergency cooking device; blankets; a fire extinguisher; a first aid kit; and extra baby food and diapers.

“If everyone would just take a second to think about how they would handle these high winds, it could go a long way,” Strong said.

In addition to downed power lines, he noted it will difficult at times to drive in a straight line. While the wind should not blow anybody off their feet, moving around may be difficult. He added being outside will be dangerous “as tree limbs can be downed at any time.”

The cooperative offered the following tips for handling power outages:

• Do not clear trees or debris from power lines, and avoid contact with downed power lines.

• SVEC members who lose power should call 1-800-234-7832.

• Have cellphones fully charged.

The SVEC news release states the cooperative will have support staff on standby who will be ready to respond if help is needed.