Town of Front Royal linemen work on power lines Friday afternoon at the intersection of 6th St. and Virginia Ave. / Photo by Roger Bianchini
UPDATED: RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency late Friday afternoon to address the effects of the severe weather impacting communities across the Commonwealth. The order is designed to help Virginia mitigate any damage caused by high winds and to streamline the process that the Commonwealth uses to provide assistance to communities impacted.
It will remain in force until further notice from the Governor.
Read the full text of the Executive Order here.
FRONT ROYAL – As a nor’easter sweeps up the east coast, residents from Virginia to Maine are experiencing strong gusts of wind up to 70-miles-per hour. Some school systems and governments kept students and workers home, and officials have urged those who do not have to travel to simply stay put.
The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning until Saturday at 6 a.m. The region can expect high winds northwest 25 to 40 mph with gusts 55 to 65 mph in the valleys and 60 to 75 mph along the ridge tops. The strongest winds in the valleys are expected through Friday evening. Strong winds will continue through the night along the ridge tops.
Widespread power outages are occurring. Travel is dangerous, especially for high profile vehicles, and motorists need to be aware of rapidly changing road conditions due to the potential of downed trees and power lines. Pedestrians will face very hazardous conditions, and need to be aware of wind-borne projectiles.
People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches. If possible, remain in the lower levels of your homes during the windstorm, and avoid windows. If a portable generator is used, follow manufacturer`s instructions and do not use inside homes, garages or apartments.
In Front Royal and Warren County, electric power crews were busy Thursday evening and into Friday.
According to Front Royal Town Manager Joe Waltz, midmorning Friday, “We currently have crews working on numerous down trees along the public right of ways and dealing with numerous power outages caused by the wind. We are currently fully staffed along with a tree contractor assisting us with tree removal.”
County residents, who have electric service with either Rappahannock Electric Coop or Shenandoah Valley Electric Coop, have been facing outages during this windstorm as well. According to the REC outage website, “Crews restored service to several thousand members overnight, however trees are falling and creating outages faster than repairs can be made. Right-of-way contractors are assisting, and additional help has been requested from other cooperatives. Restoration times are not being provided at this time.”
At 2:30 p.m. Friday afternoon, about 37,000 REC customers were without power. To report an outage to REC call 1-800-552-3904. The company asks that customers not use email or social media to report outages.
Shenandoah Valley Electric had about 7,500 customers in the Shenandoah Valley without power Friday afternoon, though there were only about 40 in Warren County. SWEC customers can report an outage by calling 1-800-234-7832, by using the MYSVEC app or by visiting the outage center.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is advising motorists to be on alert as they travel. High winds are expected to continue in most areas through Saturday morning.
VDOT crews are working to clear trees and debris as quickly as possible, according to spokesperson Shannon Marshall. She said, as a reminder, drivers who encounter an intersection with a non-working signal should treat it as a four-way stop.
Also, motorists are reminded to move over–when safely possible–for emergency responders with blue, red and amber lights, including VDOT and utility crews.