Windy weekend kept power companies busy

Most everyone who lost power from the weekend windstorms should have their power back on, just in time for some more inclement weather today and Wednesday.

“There is a small chance of freezing rain tonight (Monday) and Tuesday morning. It would be very light but with freezing rain it does it doesn’t take much to cause trouble,” said Chris Strong, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling.

The freezing rain is expected to turn into a light accumulation of snow tonight and into Wednesday, he said.

Temperatures today in the Strasburg area are expected to be a high of 45 degrees with a low of 30 degrees. Temperatures on Wednesday are expected to be a high of 46 degrees with a low of 29 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Several days of strong northwest winds have reduced moisture across the region, resulting in elevated fire weather conditions.

“This was an exceptionally long period of winds,” Strong said.

Those winds for most of the area included gusts in the mid-50-mile-per-hour range with Winchester reporting a gust of 61 miles per hour, he said.

Those gusts caused chaos for the local power companies.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative reported at its peak of the power outage that nearly 50,000 customers were without power in its entire coverage area.

“This was pretty significant,” said Casey Hollins, director of communications for the cooperative. “We still don’t have everyone restored but we have crews working around the clock.”

Power was restored to everyone in Shenandoah County by early Monday evening. Frederick County saw three cooperative members without power. Warren County, however, had 43 members without power as of 4:30 Monday evening but they were expected to soon have the lights back on, Hollins said.

Power companies from three states, as well as an electric cooperative in Virginia, came in to help restore power.

If a power pole is down or broke, it takes three hours to replace that pole and one span of damaged lines would have multiple poles, Hollins said, explaining why it takes time to restore power.

At its peak, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative had about 10,400 customers without power, said Preston Knight, public relations specialist. By Sunday evening most of its members’ power was restored, including in Shenandoah and Warren counties. As of early Monday evening, eight members in Gore were without power, he said.

Early Monday evening, Dominion Energy was still working to restore power to 44 customers, said spokesperson Janell Hancock.

At the peak of the windstorm, about 399 customers in Shenandoah County were without power, Hancock said. Dominion Energy has no customers in Warren or Frederick counties, she said.