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Appalachian Power reported that crews had restored power to most people by evening.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS | The Roanoke Times
A large tree branch lies along Campbell Avenue at Jefferson Street in Roanoke on Wednesday afternoon after a severe thunderstorm blew through with heavy rain and hail.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
A storm that swept through the Roanoke Valley on Wednesday afternoon was brief but mighty, and left thousands of residents without power.
Shortly before 3 p.m. a heavy thunderstorm hit the region with high winds that knocked over trees and power lines.
Meteorologist Mike Sporer from the National Weather Service in Blacksburg said the storm was “like a big woosh” that came through Southwest Virginia, headed east.
He said a 71 mph wind gust was recorded at the Roanoke Regional Airport, a higher speed than the 68 mph gust that hit the airport on June 13 during a storm that caused power outages in the region for several days.
Moments after the storm hit, thousands were reporting power outages.
At 4 p.m. more than 2,000 people were without power in Roanoke County, according to Appalachain Power’s website, as well as more than 1,400 Roanoke residents, 1,600 Bedford County residents and 500 Franklin County residents .
Most power had been restored by evening, however . At 10 p.m. Appalachain Power’s website reported that only 250 Roanoke County residents remained in the dark . There were still 154 reported outages in Roanoke, 480 in Bedford County, 366 in Franklin County and 126 in Pulaski County.
Appalachian Power spokesman Todd Burns said he was unsure when power would return to everyone, and that it depends on the nature of each outage.
There were several calls to local dispatch services for downed power lines and some storm damage, but most had been cleared up by the evening.
In Salem, a lightning strike caused a house fire in the 500 block of Craig Avenue. No one was injured.
Several areas also reported hail in addition to the strong winds.
Sporer said scattered rain and thunderstorms will persist for the next few days in the region. Storms like the one Wednesday may be possible on Thursday.
He said Roanoke has become a bit of a “hot spot” for rough weather lately. Two weeks ago a similar storm left thousands without power. He said this kind of weather is not uncommon for this time of year, however. The derecho hit on June 29 of 2012 with wind gusts around 80 miles per hour.
“This is the time of year to get the weather,” Sporer said.
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