Severe storms cause power problems

Posted on Friday, February 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Crews in Morristown work to clear roads and restore power Friday morning.

Crews in Morristown work to clear roads and restore power Friday morning.

A fast-moving storm system breezed through East Tennessee overnight, leaving reports of downed trees, power outages and even one injury in South Pittsburg in Marion County.

Mary Black, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Morristown, said her office issued 16 severe thunderstorm warnings throughout the storm. Although the area had a slight risk of tornadoes from the storm, no tornado warnings were issued and the NWS had no reports of tornadoes.

But they did receive widespread reports of downed trees and power lines. The first report came in at 11:35 p.m. Thursday from Sequatchie County in Southeast Tennessee. The final report was received at 4:45 a.m. from Russell County in Southwest Virginia.

Power outages from downed trees and broken power poles were reported all over the Lakeway Area.

Jody Wigington, with Morristown Utility System, reported that at the height of the storm, 1,810 MUS customers were without power. Three breakers were locked out between 2:30 and 2:45 a.m. Most of the damage was isolated in central Morristown, Wigington said.

MUS worked a tree on the line at West Sixth North and Henry streets, broken poles on Johnson Drive and McCreary and trees down on the line on Massengill.

The average length of lost power ranged from nearly 90 minutes to almost four hours.

Wigington said his office normally has a small crew on duty every Thursday night so “we were on it pretty fast.”

Jenny Lawson, with Holston Electric Cooperative, reported three separate incidents in their coverage area, affecting about 100 customers.

About 53 customers in the Watkins Chapel area near Witt lost power when trees blew down and broke a power pole. Thirty-seven customers in the Enka area lost power for two hours and 25 customers on Highway 31 in the Mooresburg area lost power when two trees blew across the road from the wind.

Surprisingly, Holston Electric received no power outage reports in the eastern part of the county, Lawson said. Joe McCarter, Vice President of engineering and operations with Appalachian Electric Cooperative said at the height of the storm about 1,200 AEC customers were without power, the majority of them in the Chestnut Hill area of Jefferson County after a tree broke a main power pole.

The utility received scattered power outages in Grainger and Jefferson counties.

Road crews across the area also received reports of downed trees that blocked roadways.

Hamblen County Road Supervisor Barry Poole said his office received a call of a downed tree on Central Church Road. No power lines were involved.

Doug Deering said there were four trees down in Morristown. He began receiving calls at about 3 a.m. Howard Allen Road near the South Industrial Park was completely blocked by a downed tree. His office received a total of four calls because of downed trees.

Jim Renfro, road superintendent in Grainger County, said he received calls of four downed trees across the county, including one in Thorn Hill and a tree that brought down a power line and blocked the road on Mitchell Road in the Indian Ridge area of the county.

The good news is the fast-moving storm did not drop as much as rain as initially anticipated.

-By Denise Williams, Tribune Staff Writer

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