69,000 Harford homes lose electricity

Ice, winds cause outage affecting most of county

January 29, 2004|By Ted Shelsby and Lynn Anderson | Ted Shelsby and Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Ice and high winds left from a series of winter storms turned off the electrical power for thousands of people yesterday M-y including about half the population of Harford County.

About 69,000 households in Harford were affected by the 1:30 p.m. outage, said Linda Foy, a spokeswoman for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. Others in the city and Baltimore County also had sporadic outages, which for many meant no heat, as high winds and ice played havoc with power lines.

Baltimore's Mount Washington neighborhood, among them, was temporarily out when a tree limb fell on a power line.

Foy said power was expected to be back on in most of Harford County by midnight, but that some isolated areas could still be without it this morning.

The Harford outage occurred when ice accumulated on two transmission lines and strong winds brought the lines together, Foy said.

Allegheny Power also reported several hundred outages in Western Maryland.

The power grid was the latest victim of the winter storms that have piled as much as 21 inches of snow in western counties, and smaller amounts in the metropolitan area.

Four deaths in Maryland were blamed on the weather. The latest victim, Emily Ann Schindler, 18, of the 100 block of Teal Drive in Pasadena, was killed Tuesday afternoon when a car in which she was riding skidded on ice and hit a grain truck on U.S. 219 in Garrett County, state police said.

The Harford power outage was widespread. Its spotty, but it affects most of the county, with the exception of Fallston, Forest Hill and Fountain Green section, said Merrie Street, a county spokeswoman.

BGE crews had repaired the two transmission lines by early evening yesterday, and by 6 p.m. about 31,000 customers were back online, Foy said.

Edward Hopkins, a spokesman for the Harford County sheriffs office, said emergency shelters were opened at three high schools for those without heat or lights. Residents were advised to bring blankets, but leave their pets at home. Some people spent the night with friends or neighbors.

Donald R. Morrison, a spokesman for Harfords school system, said that at one point 34 of the countys 50 public schools were without power. But they had been closed for the day due to icy conditions. Morrison said some schools may have to remain closed today, because it can take as long as six to seven hours to heat a building.

The sheriff's office reported two burglaries M-y both on Crimson Tree Way in Edgewood M-y during the power outage. Officials doubled the number of deputies on patrol last night to guard against crime.

Despite all the snow and ice, January will end Saturday as the driest month in the Baltimore area since the drought ended in October 2002.

The National Weather Service said 1.26 inches of precipitation fell at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, 1.77 inches below normal for January and the driest month since the 0.36 inches of February 2002.

January was cold, though, averaging 28.5 degrees, or more than 3 degrees below normal. And that meant most of what little moisture fell was snow M-y 8.4 inches of it, and 1.5 inches above normal.

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