FirstEnergy prepares for wind up to 50 mph


Staff Report

AKRON

FirstEnergy Corp’s 10 utility companies, including Ohio Edison, which provides electricity to thousands of customers in Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, say they are ready for the potentially dangerous weather that could bring sustained high winds with powerful gusts today.

And the energy company has offered tips to customers on how to weather the storm.

The storm was predicted to arrive in areas west of Ohio early Saturday and move through Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey through the weekend into Monday, according to a FirstEnergy news release.

In addition to winds forecast at up to 65 mph, thunderstorms and areas of accumulating snow are possible with passage of the cold front.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland predicted relatively calm weather with a 100 percent chance of precipitation Saturday night and a southeast wind of 11 to 15 mph with gusts as high as 25 mph.

Today, temperatures and the winds will both rise, according to the National Weather Service, producing temperatures of 53 degrees by 8 a.m. and falling to about 35 by afternoon.

Dangerous winds out of the west are predicted to carry gusts as high as 65 mph. The chance of precipitation is 60 percent, but little or no snow accumulation is expected.

Sunday night, a west wind of 22 to 31 mph is predicted with gusts as high as 50 mph. The storm is expected to die down somewhat Monday with winds of 14 to 21 mph with gusts as high as 33 mph, according to the national weather service.

“In much of our six-state service area, the already wet ground could be saturated with heavy rains Saturday followed by high winds Sunday into Monday, a combination that can cause trees to be uprooted. Also, the heavy winds have the potential to make it unsafe for our workers to use bucket trucks or ladders to do overhead repair work, which could delay power restoration efforts,” said Sam Belcher, president of FirstEnergy Utilities.

Company and contractor crews have been notified of the possibility for severe weather, and calls to mutual assistance organizations have been made. Additional line and forestry resources will be secured over the weekend as needed to respond to the storm, he said.

Customers left without power after the storm are encouraged to call 1-888-544-4877 to report their outage or click the “Report Outage” link on www.firstenergycorp.com.

FirstEnergy offered tips to customers to prepare for possible outages from severe weather. They are:

Motorists are cautioned to treat intersections with inoperable traffic signals as four-way stops.

Keep electronic devices fully charged. Mobile phones can be charged in your vehicle.

Keep a flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries handy. Tune to a local station for current storm information.

Never use a portable generator inside the house or a closed garage. When operating a generator, the power coming into the home should always be disconnected.

Gather extra blankets or a sleeping bag for each person. Do not use gas stoves, kerosene heaters or other open-flame heat sources indoors, as they could release deadly carbon monoxide gas into your home.

If you have a water well and pump, keep an emergency supply of bottled water and/or fill your bathtub with fresh water.

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