Thousands without power, trees block roads as high winds strike Pittsburgh region
Thousands of people are without power across the Pittsburgh region Sunday night as high winds continue to bring down trees and power lines — and the numbers worsened as the day turned to night.
West Penn Power reported about nearly 80,000 customers without power at about 8 p.m. That was 9,000 more without power that at 4:40 p.m.
Duquesne Light reported at 10 p.m. that about 50,000 customers were affected by outages. That was nearly 20,000 more than at 5:30 p.m.
Duquesne said in a news release Sunday evening the company had received reports of more than 200 wires and more than 50 poles down. Although Duquesne said it had restored power to around 20,000 customers, the power company said it has more than 200 staffers working 16-hour shifts to continue to restoration efforts.
Full restoration could take several days, the company said.
The outages also affected traffic signals in some areas, including several in Pittsburgh, among them along Route 28, East Ohio Street, in Troy Hill and a signal at the bridge heading toward the Strip District.
Duquesne Light reported the high winds were creating unsafe working conditions and they couldn’t work in bucket trucks with winds more than 40 miles per hour.
“Crews are focusing their efforts on removing hazards and isolating damage to reduce the number of customers impacted by a specific incident,” the company wrote in a statement on its website.
Sustained high winds continue to cause outages & 65 mph wind gusts are creating unsafe working conditions. Crews cannot work in bucket trucks when wind speed is 40+ mph. Crews are focused on removing hazards & isolating damage. Approx. 19,000 customers are without power.
— Duquesne Light (@DuquesneLight) February 24, 2019
The National Weather Service reported winds as high as 60 miles per hour at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe and 53 miles per hour near the Pittsburgh International Airport in Moon Township.
The region was under a high wind warning until 7:45 p.m., when the NWS downgraded the conditions to a wind advisory.
The advisory will remain in effect until 7 a.m. Monday.
A wind advisory, according to the NWS, means wind speeds greater than 30 mph are expected, with gusts reaching up to 45 mph. The high wind warning meant the region would experience wind gusts of up to 60 mph.
Temperatures will continue to drop throughout the day, falling into the 20s tonight and into Monday morning.
Winds not expected to let up any time soon…persisting the remainder of the day and into the night. Here are the highest wind gusts observed across the region the past 3 hours. Widespread power outages and trees/wires down are being reported. pic.twitter.com/lhHQq0d8fU
— NWS Pittsburgh (@NWSPittsburgh) February 24, 2019
Allegheny County reported wires and trees down in dozens of locations including Pittsburgh, East Deer, Plum, West Deer, Springdale Township, Hampton, Harrison, Mt. Lebanon, Baldwin, Reserve, Richland, Jefferson and McCandless, among others.
The wind caused the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium to close early because it was causing intermittent power outages.
A downed tree in Baldwin ripped a gas line out of the ground around 4 p.m. on the 200 block of Joseph Street. As of 2:30 p.m., the county reported four fires related to the high winds in Pittsburgh, Ross and Hampton townships.
Around 9 p.m. there was a report of a downed tree entrapping someone in a vehicle at the intersection of Squaw Run and Dorseyville roads.
Gerry and Annette Devinney captured a tree as it was brought down by winds in Monroeville. The couple were relieved that the tree didn’t hit their new home, which they recently purchased after a driver ran into and demolished part of their home in Penn Hills.
The tree went down about 2:45 p.m. Sunday.
A Pittsburgh nonprofit, 412 Food Rescue, tweeted to its followers that it needs help saving the food at East Liberty’s Trader Joe’s grocery store after it lost power.
We are trying to save all the food at Trader Joe’s in #EastLberty! Dan and #biggreen to the rescue! We may need help unloading in Homewood! Pallets of eggs, dairy, salads and so much good food! Raise your hands if you can help! #foodrescue pic.twitter.com/nQu1PJXQIg
— 412 Food Rescue (@412FoodRescue) February 24, 2019
Swindburne Street in Pittsburgh closed around 7 p.m. between Greenfield and Parkview avenues due to a landslide.
In Westmoreland County, Public Safety Director Roland Mertz said crews responded to a heavy volume of calls of downed trees and electrical wires.
As many as 7,000 had lost power early Sunday afternoon including a large swath of downtown Greensburg, where fire crews installed portable generators to power traffic signals.
At 6:20 p.m., West Penn Power reported 13,700 customers who had been affected by power outages in Westmoreland County.
By 8 p.m., that number jumped to close to 15,500.
Fallen trees a big problem
A tree was felled in Murrysville on Pleasant Valley Road and struck a house, Mertz said.
The county’s radio transmission tower on Mt. Odin, which services much of central Westmoreland County, was without power for more than two hours. The tower remained in operation with batteries until power was restored, Mertz said.
In the Alle-Kiski Valley, Alyse and Joe Zylinski had to leave their home on Cambridge Street in Harrison after a tree fell on it. The couple had just gotten home from a walk with their 4-month-old baby when the tree fell.
“I heard a boom — a big boom,” Alyse Zylinski said. “I looked up and it was coming toward (the skylight).”
No one was injured, but the house sustained structural damage. They will stay with family until they can get it fixed.
The couple had just had new shingles put on the roof on Saturday.
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .