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Storm winds, rain fell trees, power lines in area
A Martinsville Public Works employee begins work with a chain saw on a tree blocking Mulberry Road on Thursday. The tree was toppled as a storm moved through the area, bringing heavy rain and wind. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
A summer storm arrived a week early in Henry County and Martinsville, causing downed trees and power failures Thursday afternoon.
Jim Hudgins with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg said the storm was caused by a cold front moving northeast toward Pennsylvania. A low-pressure system followed the front, and as it came over the mountains and encountered high temperatures in the area, it began to accelerate.
Appalachian Power Co. stated in a release that 68 to 70 mph wind gusts were recorded in the Roanoke area.
Martinsville Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Phillips said the storm, which began around 3:45 p.m., flipped two electrical breakers, likely when a transmission line in the woods near the uptown Spur Trail and Silver Bell Trail was knocked out.
Dennis Bowles, city electric department director of utilities, said that the incident cut electricity to about 600 customers in the city’s uptown area, Brown Street, Ellsworth Street, Liberty Fair Mall and sections of Fayette, Market and Maple streets.
Power was out for about an hour.
Phillips said a number of trees were down on the 1000 block, the 1100 block and the 1600 block of Mulberry Road. Around 4 p.m., city utility workers had blocked off a section of Mulberry to remove a large tree that had blocked both lanes of traffic.
Also, Phillips said, phone lines were down on Ivy Street, and there was a report of a downed tree on a house on the 1500 block of Spruce Street Extension, although he said that the damage was relatively minor.
A tree also fell on U.S. 58 west just past the Cloverleaf intersection.
Phillips said that he was unaware of any auto accidents resulting in the city from the storm.
According to Henry County Public Safety Director Rodney Howell, an accident with injuries occurred on U.S. 58 during the storm.
Howell said he believed the Axton, Irisburg and Ridgeway areas of the county were hit hardest by the storm, although Sanville and Horsepasture also experienced power failures.
According to Appalachian Power Co.’s website, as of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, 2,630 Henry County customers still were without service more than two hours after the storm moved on. In Patrick County, 370 customers were in the dark at that time.
APCo stated in a release that the unexpected storm cells that developed over Ohio and moved over APCo’s territory Thursday afternoon caused almost 125,000 customers to lose electric service. That included 106,000 in Virginia and 18,000 in West Virginia.
Hudgins said that the next few days should be drier and cooler in the area. However, he said, conditions similar to those that created Thursday’s storm may exist on Tuesday.