By Colleen S. Good
Times West Virginian
A storm blew through northern West Virginia early Friday morning, downing power lines and trees because of the high winds.
At the height of the storm, 1,300 Marion households were without power.
Harrison, Marion, Monongalia and Taylor county schools all operated under two-hour delays Friday due to the power outages and fallen trees from the storm.
Valley Falls State Park was closed to vehicle traffic Friday, and will continue to be closed to vehicle traffic today while the roads are cleared of debris. The park will remain open to foot traffic, however. Saw-whet owl banding remained on schedule Friday, and is still planned to go forward tonight beginning at 8:30 p.m.
Allen Staggers, external affairs manager for Mon Power in northern West Virginia, said the damage and power outages were typical for a wind storm of that magnitude.
“We have a few broken poles, but most are due to trees coming down and breaking wires.” Staggers said. “The good thing is all the bad weather is gone. It’s pretty nice out there now, and we have crews out there now, with extra crews working overnight.”
More than 10,000 homes across West Virginia were without power from Mon Power Friday, mostly in Preston, Marion, Monongalia, Wetzel and Taylor counties.
Staggers said power would return for most customers by the end of the day Friday, though estimates for return of service may change as crews do damage assessments.
“We’re working on it right now,” Staggers said Friday afternoon. “I know some customers will be out of service overnight.”
The storm hit shortly after 3 a.m. early Friday morning. Stagger outlined the worst-hit areas of Marion County.
“They were kind of scattered around the county. In the western and northern area out toward Mannington and the Wetzel County line, there were around 400 households without power. Farmington, around 150 customers were out, and south of Fairmont down toward Worthington and Enterprise another 150 customers were out. The rest were scattered around Fairmont,” he said.
Most of the work late Friday was concentrated on the northern part of Marion County and the Fairmont area.
Staggers said that, though many were without power Friday, the storm was mild compared to what the area experienced last year.
“This time last year, we were recovering from Hurricane Sandy and the effects of that,” he said. “We had snow and bad wind. It was a double whammy. And that was only four months after the derecho.”
Staggers said that this year’s weather has been good by comparison.
“We’ve been kind of lucky this year,” Staggers said. “So far this year, we haven’t had a lot of widespread storms — nothing that’s caused a lot of damage.”
The damage caused by Friday’s storms was typical for the high winds caused by the storm, he said.
“I heard they approached 60 mph,” Staggers said. “Given the wind readings we had, the damage we’re seeing isn’t unexpected. It would be typical for weather like that.”
Staggers warns that customers should be careful of downed lines.
“Especially when a storm happens overnight, always be careful around downed lines,” Staggers said. “Most people don’t know a power line from a telephone line from a cable line, so stay away, and be sure to call us to let us know it’s down.”
Staggers said it can be difficult to determine visually whether or not a downed line is live — live wires in real life don’t jump as spark like they do in cartoons, he said.
“Treat any wire as though it’s energized,” Staggers said. “You can’t tell a live wire from one that isn’t.”
Email Colleen S. Good at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.