2010-04-22 / Local & State

Storms Cut Power To Thousands In Western PA

PITTSBURGH (AP) – A severe storm system carrying wind gusts up to 86 mph toppled trees and electric lines in western Pennsylvania, cutting power to tens of thousands of customers and leaving two people stranded on Johnstown’s Inclined Plane for several hours, authorities said.

The storms hit the area between 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Friday, affecting more than 100,000 customers and keeping utility crews busy, as falling trees brought down power lines, closed some roads and caused some damage to buildings and cars.

The National Weather Service said a wind gust of 86 mph was reported at the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport near Latrobe, where the winds pushed an unsecured 1,800-pound aircraft 20 or 30 feet into a fence. A gust of 66 mph was reported at the Allegheny County Airport.

The storm cut power to the Inclined Plane, which carries passengers and vehicles between Johnstown and Westmont, stranding two cars almost halfway across.

Allegheny Power says nearly 27,400 of its customers were still without power Saturday afternoon, down from more than 75,000 affected, most of them in Westmoreland and Washington counties. Duquesne Light said about 6,500 customers remained without power as of 5 p.m. Saturday, down from a peak of 36,000 customers affected in Allegheny and Beaver counties.

In central Pennsylvania, PP&L Electric said about 3,300 customers lost power when the storm system moved through.

In Braddock, just east of Pittsburgh, Mayor John Fetterman said the roofs of four buildings were taken off by a sustained burst of wind. Fetterman said a commercial building that houses a day care center and a dental clinic lost its third floor and much of the town was without power for the night.

In Westmoreland County, the storm damaged a church roof and sent a wall toppling into a restaurant parking lot.

In Irwin, a brick wall along a building fell into the parking lot of the Cafe Supreme Restaurant & Lounge, but no injuries were reported.

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