The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 29, 2011

Area storm damage mild compared to deep South

While residents in southern West Virginia, some without power, continue to clear felled trees and assess damage after Wednesday night’s storms, many are thankful the extreme weather that hit Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia did not have the same devastating affect on our area.

Area Emergency Operation Centers confirmed that most calls received during the storm reported trees down, water on roadways and power outages.

For Greenbrier County 911 Call Center, the storm proved most problematic.

Center Director Dan Edwards reported that the call center was struck by lightning during the storm.

“We lost a significant amount of equipment, but we were able to stay on task by quickly repairing some equipment. We never lost function, but our radio system was impaired.”

Edwards said that the call center usually functions on four stations, but were down to one during the storm. A second line was repaired quickly, but the center must wait for equipment and parts replacements before all lines are back up.

Edwards called it a “busy night” with people reporting power outages and trees blocking roads through one line.

Anita Silverman, meteorologist with National Weather Service Blacksburg, Va., office, said that Greenbrier County saw some flooding from the Greenbrier River and warns that it will continue to rise after Wednesday’s rain. On average in Greenbrier, rainfall measured about 1.5 inches, she said.

Director of Raleigh County’s 911 call center, Marty Agee, said that most calls came from the Bradley, Slab Fork and Sophia areas and reported power outages, trees and high water.

A tree caught fire in Bradley after lightning struck and the Bradley Fire Department responded to extinguish the flames, she said.

“We had reports of high water over roadways where it rises rapidly in heavy rain,” Agee added.

Other counties reported no significant damage from the storm.

Ken Batty, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Charleston said that no tornadoes have been confirmed in our area, but “there doesn’t have to be tornadoes for wind damage.”

The weather service did issue a tornado warning around 11 p.m. Wednesday because “the radar indicated strong rotation” over Raleigh County, he said.

Public reports to the NWS claimed that a “funnel cloud” was seen over Shady Spring, but this has not been confirmed, said Batty.

Other public reports include large hail in Ghent, Cool Ridge and Bradley between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m., he added.

“From various reports from the public and Emergency Operation Centers, it appears that there was spotty damage. In most cases damage occurred because of sudden downbursts of wind and we are not out investigating any tornado paths in Raleigh County,” he added.

Emergency officials in Fayette, Summers, Monroe and Wyoming counties did not report any serious damage.

Appalachian Power had a total of 33,000 customers across their service area without power after the storm, but by 9 a.m. Thursday only 4.400 customers in West Virginia were without power.

Appalachian Power spokesperson Phil Moye said that many customers had power restored by 5 p.m. Thursday and about 1,500 throughout Kanawha and Fayette counties should be back on the grid today.

Monongahela Power spokesperson Mark Nitowski said that power has been restored to approximately 1,300 customers in Summers County and 1,000 in Greenbrier County. Another 600 residents, most in Neola, will be restored by this morning.

As the lights come back on across the state, residents can look forward to a few days of sun to dry out, said Batty, but some small showers may pass through early next week.


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