Storm causes power outages across Centre County; Bald Eagle Area schools closed Wednesday

cpassant@centredaily.com, mmorgan@centredaily.comNovember 26, 2013 

The change of seasons doesn’t officially begin until Dec. 21, but don’t tell that to Old Man Winter.

After rain and winds Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, more than 5,800 people in Centre County were left without power.

West Penn Power officials are hoping to get all the power returned to homes by midnight, spokesman Todd Myers said, adding that the company has a full crew of workers on the job and is bringing in people from other counties.

Municipalities including Halfmoon Township, Port Matilda Borough, Huston Township, Taylor Township and Worth Township saw outages for more than 90 percent of their residents.

Myers expects some homes to gain power and some to lose it throughout the day, but doesn’t see any more major outages on the horizon.

“It’s going to be an up-and-down kind of day,” he said.

He said that anyone experiencing power outages should call 888-544-4877.

On Tuesday, Centre County residents plied icy roads and dealt with their children’s snow day and altered Thanksgiving travel plans as about 3 inches of snow dropped on the region in what is the first winter storm of the season.

Bald Eagle Area School District closed Wednesday “due to power outages and trees down across secondary roads,” the district reported.

BEA Superintendent Jeff Miles told the Centre Daily Times there were numerous outages across the district, including along U.S. Route 220 between Beaver Road in Julian and Reese Hollow Road near Port Matilda, and in the Howard area.

State College Area School District had a scheduled day off Wednesday, and Penns Valley, Bellefonte and Philipsburg Osceola school districts all reported for class without delays.

After a period of rain, the National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning for the county, and there were numerous reports of power outages around the region as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

A First Energy Corp. map that tracks outages reported to the power company showed about 23 separate active incidents at about 11 p.m. Most of them involved fewer than 50 customers each, but outages in Howard and Port Matilda each left between 500 and 1,500 in the dark, according to the website.

At about 7:15 p.m., Ferguson Township police responded to a downed power line across state Route 45 between Tadpole Road and the entrance to the Ag Progress Days site in Rock Springs and closed traffic about 30 minutes later.

In State College, witnesses near South Atherton Street described a sudden flash before the outage. Lombardo said the cause is under investigation, but the source of the outage appears to have come from the Atherton Street power substation.

Earlier Tuesday, Bald Eagle Area, Bellefonte Area, Penns Valley and State College Area school districts were closed, while Philipsburg-Osceola Area schools opted for early dismissal.

A snow emergency was declared in Patton Township, meaning all vehicles must be removed from township streets until the snow emergency has ended. Property owners must clear sidewalks within 24 hours after snow has stopped. The Patton emergency was lifted Wednesday morning.

In Ferguson Township, police reminded residents that cars should be off township streets when there is 2 or more inches of snow. Also, there is no parking on the streets for 48 hours after the last of the snow has fallen.

The National Weather Service in State College issued a winter weather advisory until 1 p.m. Wednesday, as the region could see a wintry mix and as much as 3 to 5 inches of snow with ice accumulations up to a tenth of an inch.

Early Tuesday, the weather was to blame for a multicar pileup on Interstate 80 westbound, causing emergency workers to close the highway between Bellefonte Exit 161 and Lamar, Clinton County, Exit 173, according to PennDOT. No one was injured in the crash, according to state police in Lamar.

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