Strong storm knocks out power in Westmoreland, Fayette
Linda Ames thought the roof of her Bear Rocks home in Fayette County would be torn apart early Friday by trees and wind gusts that topped 60 mph.
The storm downed power lines and left more than 50,000 residences and businesses without electricity in southwestern Pennsylvania.
“It sounded like the roof was coming off. It was scary. We lucked out,” Ames said as her husband, J.D., and her father, Ken Pospisil of Acme, used chain saws to cut several of the 15 downed trees that covered the yard of her home on Chestnut Ridge on the Westmoreland-Fayette border.
Trees smashed into a back porch, ruined a trampoline and tore apart gutters, but the roof was spared. The storm hit about 4 a.m., several residents of the development said.
“We just got blessed. The good Lord was looking out for us,” said J.D. Ames, who said the gusts that lasted about 15 minutes “sounded like a freight train.”
No injuries were reported as a result of the storm, said Daniel Stevens, spokesman for the Westmoreland County Department of Public Safety.
“We had a lot of people running into trees and branches that were down, but no one was injured,” Stevens said.
Residents of Bear Rocks were among about 9,170 customers in Western Pennsylvania still without power in the evening. Diane Holder, a spokeswoman for West Penn Power of Greensburg, said the company will have crews working overnight to restore power.
The utility had as many as 56,000 customers without power in Western Pennsylvania, according to Todd Meyers, a company spokesman.
FirstEnergy Corp., the parent firm of West Penn Power, anticipates sending more line crews into the region on Saturday morning from its sister utility companies in Ohio, Meyers said. The company could not say when customers in particular areas would have their power restored, Meyers said.
Power outages forced Armbrust Christian Academy in Mt. Pleasant Township, St. John the Baptist School in Scottdale and schools in the Southmoreland School District, all in Westmoreland County, to close.
In Fayette, Uniontown Area School District was closed, along with St. John the Evangelist School in Uniontown.
The National Weather Service in Pittsburgh measured wind gusts at 60 mph to 70 mph as a result of the storm, according to Brad Rehak, a weather service meteorologist.
The gusts were clocked as high as 77 mph at the traffic control tower at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity, Stevens said.
The weather service issued warnings that the region could be hit with a microburst — an intensified gust of straight-line winds from a thunderstorm — but the agency did not know whether the Bear Rocks region along Route 31 was hit by such a gust, Rehak said.
Down the hill from the Ames' residence, Jimmy Paul had about 10 large trees toppled on his Birch Road property, and a tree had snapped a utility pole in front of his house, cutting off his power.
“I'm lucky I did not get killed last night” by a tree crashing into the house, Paul said as he inspected a 100-foot-tall oak that fell away from the house. Numerous large trees on his 3-acre property were toppled or snapped off at the top, but none hit the structure.
Paul said he heard a loud “woosh” about 4 a.m., then booms, which he believes were the sounds of the trees snapping and falling over.
It was the worst storm he has experienced in the 25 years he has lived there, Paul said.
Paul said he is ready for an extended period without power and can go to his parents' house nearby, if necessary.
“I'm used to being without power for a couple of weeks,” Paul said.
Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Roundup: PUC schedules hearings for FirstEnergy rate increase; New-home sales almost flat in September; more
- WPIAL football playoff clinchings
- Serra Catholic snaps 28-game losing streak with 38-36 victory over Wilkinsburg
- Connellsville reaches playoff despite blowout loss
- Kittanning routs Ford City in rivalry’s final game
- Linebacker Harrison coming along slowly since return to Steelers
- Clairton runs past Leechburg for PIAA record
- Freeport man accused of having child pornography images
- Lower Burrell man charged with shoplifting
- BVA enters playoffs with 3 straight wins
- Charleroi can’t overcome 28-0 hole