Strong Winds Hit Central Virginia

Posted: Updated:
Crews with Dominion Energy working to restore power in Charlottesville Crews with Dominion Energy working to restore power in Charlottesville
Greene County home damaged (Photo courtesy Sean Ryan with Ruckersville Fire) Greene County home damaged (Photo courtesy Sean Ryan with Ruckersville Fire)
Tree falls onto the fence at VDOT's office in Madison County Tree falls onto the fence at VDOT's office in Madison County
Hessian Hills Apartments in Charlottesville. No injuries reported Hessian Hills Apartments in Charlottesville. No injuries reported
Wind damages home under construction along Morgantown Road Wind damages home under construction along Morgantown Road

Thousands were without power Friday evening after high wind battered central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley, leaving a mess in its wake. Some wind gusts had been as high as 70 miles per hour.

Crews with the Virginia Department of Transportation began work early Friday, March 2, removing downed trees and branches from roads. VDOT advised drivers to be on alert as they traveled as high winds were expected to continue in most areas through Saturday, March 3.

Police had to block off many roads around the greater-Charlottesville area due to debris, while firefighters had been called out to reports of brush and electrical fires.

Dominion Energy said it would have its crews work into the overnight hours to the get the lights back on.

"It brought down some power poles. It brought down trees. It put limbs into the power lines and knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of our customers all across our service area," said Rayhan Daudani with Dominion Energy.

The power company said more than 350,000 customers were affected by the high winds. About 10,000 of those customers were in Albemarle County.

"We have now asked for mutual aid. So there will be other utility companies coming possibly from the south and other areas here in Virginia to help us," Daudani said.

Many schools were closed Friday due to power outages and blocked roads. Meanwhile, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport said some airlines had preemptively canceled select flights along the East coast due to strong wind. Flight info can be found here.

A house under construction along Morgantown Road appears to have had its roof lifted by the strong winds.

In Charlottesville, bricks were blown right off a building in the Hessian Hills Apartment complex. Crews were on the scene for a portion of the day, tearing down unstable bricks.

Power outages continued to affect areas of central Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. Crews are not able to get into bucket trucks to repair live wires while wind gusts are blowing.

"As you can imagine when the winds are as high as they are today, it can be dangerous for our crews to be out there restoring power," said Daudani.

If you see a downed line, call to report it and stay at least 30 feet away.

Click on the links for additional info on outages from Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Dominion Energy, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative.

Editor's Note: This is a developing story, we are working to get more information and will bring you updates here on NBC29.com.

CULPEPER — Virginia Department of Transportation and contractor crews are clearing trees and debris from the region’s roads as high winds continue to hamper travel across much of Virginia, including the Piedmont. Traffic signals area also reported out at some locations due to power outages.

Dozens of secondary roads are closed at this hour, the majority in Albemarle and Madison counties as well as other counties near the Blue Ridge Mountains where wind speeds have been highest. VDOT crews are working 12-hour shifts and will continue working through the night to clear roads, repair signs and other damaged infrastructure, and support utility crews while they repair fallen power lines. Check VDOT’s 511 website for updated information about which roads are closed.

The high winds are forecast to continue through the evening and VDOT cautions motorists to drive with extreme care since trees, limbs and other debris may fall onto the road without warning. Drivers with high-profile vehicles should be particularly cautious in windy conditions. As a reminder, if you encounter an intersection with a non-working signal, treat it as a four-way stop.

VDOT asks drivers to:

  • Check road closures before you travel, and look at potential alternate routes.
  • Reduce your speed and assume there may be a road obstruction ahead.
  • Move over for responders with blue, red, and amber lights, including VDOT and utility crews.
  • Always use your headlights in bad weather. Remember wipers on, lights on is the law.
  • Ensure gas tanks are full, and have a good emergency kit. Here’s how: www.ready.gov/car.

Drivers can:

VDOT’s Culpeper District includes the counties of Albemarle, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Orange and Rappahannock.

03/03/2018 Updated Release from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative:

MT. CRAWFORD – Extremely windy conditions Thursday night through early Saturday morning caused outages in Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative’s (SVEC) service region.

As of 9 p.m. Saturday, approximately 402 member-owners are without power in the SVEC service area. Please find an approximation
of the outages, by locality, listed below:

  • Augusta 92
  • Clarke 1
  • Frederick 137
  • Highland 3
  • Page 4
  • Rockingham 65
  • Shenandoah 83
  • Warren 5
  • Winchester 13

SVEC crews are working diligently to restore electric service to our member-owners as quickly and safely as possible. The goal is to have a majority of members restored by Sunday evening. As restoration efforts continue, the number of outages may fluctuate as crews work to safely restore service. Additionally, during an event such as this, “blinking” of lights may occur.

Do not make any attempts to clear trees or other debris from power lines. Note the location, and any other important information regarding these situations, and contact SVEC. Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative will work to ensure that power is restored as soon as possible. As a reminder, individuals are encouraged to avoid contact with downed power lines.

In the event that you lose power and you are an SVEC member, call SVEC at 1-800- 234-7832, even if you think your neighbor may have called. It is more effective for SVEC to know where all outages are located.

03/03/2018 Updated Release from Dominion Energy:

RICHMOND, Va. – Having restored nearly 80 percent of the more than 690,000 customers that lost service from the windstorm and with additional crew reinforcements now on the ground, Dominion Energy will have a vast majority of customers in Virginia restored by Monday, with completion expected by Tuesday. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, 145,000 customers remain out.

This storm was particularly damaging as it lasted so long – with our system experiencing significant winds more than 24 hours including gusts of over 70 mph. It ranks as one of the top five most damaging storms in the number of Dominion Energy customers impacted, topped only by hurricanes Floyd, Isabel and Irene, and the Super Derecho of 2012.

Northern Virginia and the Gloucester/Northern Neck area took the brunt of the impact with widespread significant tree, pole and wire damage. There was also moderate with pockets of significant damage in Central Virginia and Tidewater regions. In certain instances, crews had to stop work to take shelter until the wind gusts subsided.

Here is a breakdown of final restoration times by area:

  • Tidewater – restoration complete by Sunday evening
  • I-81 corridor - restoration complete by Sunday evening
  • Southside Va. – restoration complete by Monday evening
  • Charlottesville and Orange - restoration complete by Tuesday evening
  • Metro Richmond - restoration complete by Tuesday evening
  • Northern Virginia and Fredericksburg - restoration complete by Tuesday evening
  • Gloucester/Northern Neck - restoration complete by Tuesday evening

As more progress is made, individual customer restoration times will be provided through the online outage map and the automated phone system.

A workforce of more than 3,900 restoration personnel are working as quickly as they can in conditions that are still somewhat hazardous due to breezy conditions. The storm knocked out power to 565 critical facilities, such as fire and police stations and hospitals. Crews have restored all but 58 of these facilities.

Customers are advised to beware of any lines that may have fallen or come into contact with trees, debris, or water. Stay at least 30 feet away from any downed power line and make sure your family, pets, and neighbors also avoid the downed wire. Call Dominion Energy right away at 1-866-DOM-HELP (1- 866-366-4357) to speak with an agent to report the downed wire.

03/03/2018 Updated Release from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative:

Over 250 workers and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) employees continue around-the-clock efforts to restore power to more than 23,000 members who remain without service. That workforce, about double REC’s normal force of line personnel, includes REC crews and more than 50 crews from other cooperatives.

Nearly 100 mutual aid linemen from Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina have arrived, with more expected from in-state electric co-ops that experienced less damage than REC. REC’s service territory sustained some of the most significant damage in Virginia, with nearly 100% of members in several localities losing power at some point during the storm.

As of Saturday evening, REC had restored power to over 50 percent of the members who experienced an outage since the storm began late Thursday night. As crews begin to work through Sunday, they will continue the tedious task of repairing and, in some cases, rebuilding lines.

In all, more than 1,000 separate events – each representing anywhere from one outage to more than 500 - remain to be tackled. REC recognizes the frustration of members who remain without power and appreciates their patience as field crews work nonstop to bring back service after this devastating wind storm.

The storm toppled hundreds of trees and downed power lines often breaking poles and crossarms. REC estimates that at least 100 poles have been broken. The most significant damage remains in REC’s western counties of Greene, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Fauquier, Madison and Warren.