High winds knock down trees, knock out power in many Alle-Kiski Valley towns
Just minutes after Harrison residents Alyse and Joe Zylinski returned home from a walk with their 4-month-old baby Sunday, their house was struck by a downed tree.
“I heard a boom, a big boom,” Alyse Zylinski said. “I looked up and it was coming toward (the skylight).”
Although no one was injured, the couple was forced to leave the home along Cambridge Street because it sustained structural damage.
The couple had just had new shingles put on the roof Saturday.
Their incident was just one of many across the Alle-Kiski Valley on Sunday caused by high winds that ravaged neighborhoods, bringing down trees and wires. The National Weather Service reported wind gusts as high as 60 mph at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe and 53 mph at Pittsburgh International Airport.
Over 100,000 people were without power across the region by Sunday evening, according to numbers provided by West Penn Power and Duquesne Light.
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 8 p.m. that about 48,000 customers were affected by outages. That was nearly 20,000 more than at 5:30 p.m.
Emergency crews kept busy all day removing trees from roadways, checking on down power lines and making sure residents remained safe.
Michael Krzeminski, Harrison’s emergency management coordinator, said on a day like Sunday, first-responders just have to roll with the punches.
“We kind of got to play the cards we’re dealt,” he said. “This definitely does tax our crews.”
A tree fell across the road in the 1500 block of Sylvan Avenue at about 7:45 p.m., according to Allegheny County 911.
Crews in Allegheny Township had to deal with three road closures. Hulton Road, Indian Hill Road and River Forest Drive were all closed for a time.
Emergency Management Coordinator Lee Schumaker said officials were turning their attention to the dropping temperatures Sunday evening.
“We decided to go ahead and open up the warming shelter,” Schumaker said.
Officials will open up the township building as a warming center for residents who need it. Residents can call 911 or the township police if they need assistance.
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 dip down into the low 30s on Monday and Tuesday.
Clarks Pike Road and Days Run Road were blocked with trees and wires in East Deer.
“We got hit with two in a row, and that’s it,” said Jack Bailie, East Deer’s fire chief. “It’s been dead since.”
A 60- to 70-foot oak tree closed Garvers Ferry Road at the intersection of Wildlife Lodge Road for several hours.
“I heard a crack, turned around and looked, and it fell,” said Mark Mclure, who lives at the intersection. “It came down with a loud crash.”
Mclure and his wife, Marie, were outside when the tree came down. He said it was fortunate nobody was traveling through the intersection when the tree fell.
“A red pickup truck had just come through, and I’ll bet it hadn’t reached the next stop sign (at Edgecliff Road) when the tree came down,” he said.
The amount of time it takes to get from the spot where the tree fell and that stop sign is a matter of seconds.
“We had another (tree) that the power company had to cut down for us, but this one we never had a problem with.” Mclure said. “This is the last one I ever expected to come down.”
Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .