High winds down trees, cause power outages

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By Jenny Hartley

Winds gusting up to 45 mph knocked down trees and power lines in Lancaster County on Wednesday.

Duke Energy spokesman Rick Jiran said about 69,000 customers lost power between late Tuesday night and Wednesday night.

About 375 homes lost power in Lancaster County, mostly east of the Lancaster city limits, Jiran said.

Heavy rain preceded the gusty winds, softening the soil and making it easier for trees to fall onto power lines, Jiran said.

“It really wreaked havoc on our system,” he said.

On Thursday morning, about 15 county residents were still without power, but they had electricity by noon.

“Our crews were working around electricity in 40-mph winds in the dark,” Jiran said. “It’s a tough job, and it’s a slow job. We appreciate everyone’s patience while we got their power back on.”

Trees were reported down across the county. Fire departments were busy responding to calls, particularly along the U.S. 521 corridor in the Panhandle.

A tree fell on power lines just south of S.C. 75 along U.S. 521 in Indian Land.

The wind knocked out the traffic lights at U.S. 521 and S.C. 160, and state troopers and sheriff’s deputies directed traffic until the power was restored at the intersection.

A tree also fell across one lane of U.S. 521 near the Lancaster Speedway, and S.C. Department of Transportation responded to remove the tree.

Lancaster County Emergency Management Director Morris Russell said the winds downed power lines, which sparked about six grass fires in the county Wednesday. None of those were serious, because the county has had so much rain in recent days, Russell said.

“We had a few calls around the county about trees,” he said. “We had one 62-mph gust at the Emergency Operations Center (on West Gay Street).”

Winds were calmer on Thursday, although the county was still under a lake wind advisory.

After temperatures in the 60s at the beginning of the week, it will be cooler through the weekend, with a high near 53 today. The high temperature on Saturday will be 59 and 51 on Sunday. There is a 50 percent chance of rain on Saturday. Sunny weather is forecast for Sunday.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151