The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

October 25, 2013

Power outages result from early snowfall

A pre-Halloween snow storm delivered Thursday was all trick and no treat to thousands of FirstEnergy customers knocked out of power by the weird weather.

More of the same is possible today in parts of Ashtabula County, according to the National Weather Service. Areas away from Lake Erie remain under a lake effect snow advisory that won’t expire until noon today. As many as eight inches may hit the ground before the blast is over, the NWS says. It shouldn’t last, happily, thanks to temperatures expected to climb into the low 40s and the arrival of rain, forecasters said.

Power should be flowing today to every FirstEnergy customer affected by Thursday’s snowfall, a company spokesman said.

Wet, heavy snow that plopped down on northeast Ohio shut off electricity to thousands of customers. Repair crews were busy Thursday, but by late afternoon some 118 addresses were still without power in Ashtabula County and nearly 400 in Lake County. In far worse shape is Geauga County, where upwards of 11,120 customers were without service Thursday afternoon.

Mark Durbin, FirstEnergy spokesman, said service would be restored to most customers Thursday night, but some may be waiting until today for service. However, repairs will be made as weather allows, he said.

The culprit is the first significant snow of the 2013-2014 season. As many as four inches fell in parts of the region Thursday morning, a heavy weight that snapped tree limbs and toppled power lines. “If you see where the snowfall is heaviest, you’ll find the bulk of our outages,” Durbin said.

Snow also greased local highways, contributing to numerous traffic accidents, safety departments said.

Plows were pressed into service Thursday and today to keep state highways clear, said Justin Chesnic, Ohio Department of Transportation District 4 spokesman. Ten crews saw action in the southern parts of Ashtabula County on Thursday and another 10 were scheduled to check road conditions Thursday night and Friday morning, Chesnic said.

“It’s a good indication that winter is ramping up,” he said.

In Ashtabula, some .3 inches of snow fell on Ron Coursen’s weather gauges, he said Thursday. The arrival of snow before Halloween — at least along the lakeshore — is relatively uncommon, said Coursen, an NWS observer. Only twice in the 14 years Coursen has kept local weather records, in 2006 and 2009, has measurable snow fallen in October, he said.

October snow doesn’t necessarily mean a tough winter awaits, Coursen said. In 2006, the region registered some of its lowest overall snow totals, he said.

“It’s not a good barometer,” Coursen said.

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