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Observer 11/24/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Wind knocks power out for thousands

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Wind knocks power out for thousands

Penny Green of Elgin awoke Sunday to find a mangled storage shed and debris scattered from high winds. Gusts knocked out power on two separate occasions over the weekend. (Penny Green photo)
Penny Green of Elgin awoke Sunday to find a mangled storage shed and debris scattered from high winds. Gusts knocked out power on two separate occasions over the weekend. (Penny Green photo)
Elgin resident Penny Green was surprised when she woke up Sunday to find her shed turned around and mangled.

The north end of the Grande Ronde Valley experienced some high winds over the weekend.

Gusts reached 62 mph, two miles south of Imbler around 3:15 a.m. Sunday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

“I also have a report of 55 mph (winds) four miles north of Island City (on Saturday night),” said forecaster George Perry. In La Grande, the strongest gust recorded by the NWS was 44 mph, Perry said.

Green said she and her family in Elgin heard the wind howling, but didn’t hear it doing any damage.

“We’ve been through a lot of wind storms,” she said. “It’s never done that before.”

NWS’s Perry said forecasters expected the strongest storm system in six or seven years. Though it perhaps didn’t turn out as strong, “It was still pretty windy,” Perry said. The Columbia River Basin area saw gusts up to 70 mph.

The storm knocked out power to 52 Oregon Trail Electric customers early Saturday morning when a power pole caught fire. The pole was replaced and power was restored by 10 a.m., according to OTEC’s Jim Horan.

A second outage occurred at 2:50 a.m. Sunday, when 7,354 customers lost power in La Grande, Summerville, Imbler and Elgin. By 5 a.m. 4,733 customers had restored power, Horan said. The remaining customers had power restored by 7 a.m.

Horan said it was “entirely the wind” that caused the outages. The power pole fire was started by wind and debris on Buchanan Road, Horan said. On Sunday, it was transmission lines hit by the wind.

“Normally you don’t have wind affecting transmission lines,” he said.

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