mighty wind

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
Wind gusts are blamed for downed power lines and trees and myriad other problems across Rowan County and much of the state Sunday.
The wind ushered in a cold front and gusted throughout the day and into the night.
Though the National Weather Service reported that the strongest gust measured at Rowan County Airport reached only about 40 mph, others reported stronger winds.
At 7 p.m., Duke Energy reported about 2,000 county residents without power.
“We’ve restored a lot, but other outages are right behind them,” said Duke Energy spokesman Randy Wheeless.
He said linemen would be working throughout the night to restore power.
Across Rowan County, the wind caused problems for numerous firefighters who battled wildfires pushed by the gusts.
One of the more bizarre accidents blamed on the wind occurred on Kimball Road near the South Rowan YMCA.
There, the wind picked up an aluminum carport behind Page Electric. The wind carried the carport aloft before setting it down in power lines and on the road in front of the business.
“I saw it hanging there on the line,” said Ollie Morrow, who lives next door to the business.
She said that observation was preceded by a loud crash.
“I heard something and said, ‘What in the world?!’ ” Morrow said.
Lorie Surratt, Morrow’s granddaughter, said that when she took a look, the carport was hanging on the power lines.
“Then it completely fell,” she said.
Surratt said the wind then drove the aluminum down the road. Eventually, firefighters pulled it from the road and piled it near a tree.
A track hoe was brought to cover with dirt another pile of aluminum in front of Page Electric. That was done to keep it from blowing away.
Landis Town Administrator Reed Linn said some shingles were also blown from the building. He said he’d been told that those shingles would withstand wind gusts of 60 to 75 mph.
Linn said Sunday’s conditions marked the first time since Hurricane Hugo’s visit in 1989 that he’d seen such gusts.
Not far away, on Main Street in China Grove, Jim and Tamara Solomon were in their house when they heard an explosion.
“I was on the computer and then, ‘Boom!’ it was gone,” Tamara said.
Electricity was snuffed as a result of a tree that fell across a power line just up the street from the Solomons’ house.
“The tree just came down across that power pole,” Jim said. “The bad part is, there’s a transformer on that pole.”
The Solomons sat on the front porch of their house and watched linemen for Duke Energy work to clear the tree.
China Grove Fire Chief Jeff Gledhill said late Sunday afternoon that that downed tree marked the biggest problem for the town’s firefighters.
“We’ve been fortunate,” he said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
A spokesman for the National Weather Service said the wind gusts should be a thing of the past by this morning, though the temperature will be considerably cooler than it was over the weekend.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.