Commonwealth Journal

September 3, 2013

Saturday storm causes interruption in holiday weekend activities

by Heather Tomlinson
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — A weekend storm interrupted Labor Day weekend festivities and wreaked havoc on the county’s electrical systems.

What began as a hot, humid, and sunny day Saturday gave way to torrential rainfall at around 6 p.m. when a storm system swept through the area. The system packed high winds and frequent lightning, and within an hour numerous trees were downed in the county and city and scattered outages were reported.

“We were very busy for a few hours during and after the storms Saturday evening,” said Lt. Shannon Smith, with the Somerset Police Department. “We experienced some flooding and tree damage but luckily no injuries.”

According to information accessed through the website for the National Weather Service in Jackson, as much as 2.89 inches of rain fell in Pulaski County between 8 a.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday. That resulted in an urban and small stream flood advisory during Saturday evening’s storms, and water reportedly covered a number of roads, including Mt. Vernon Street and Monticello, according to storm reports made to the National Weather Service.

Smith said SPD officers stayed busy Saturday evening with reports of downed trees and limbs, and he said the City of Somerset Street Department and Kentucky Department of Highways worked to keep roadways clear.

A tree reportedly fell next to a parked car on Clements Avenue in Somerset, causing minor damage, and Smith said SPD officers were called to Pumphouse Road after a vehicle skidded into a tree that had fallen across the road. The driver was not hurt in the incident.

It wasn’t long after Saturday’s storms started when residents and businesses across the county experienced power outages — some lasting as long as several hours.

Lightning apparently struck a transformer in the city, causing outages to some businesses up and down North U.S. 27. Several stoplights were completely off-line for a bit.

A light outage at Main Street and East Ky. 80 may have contributed to an accident that occurred at the intersection at around 6:45 p.m. Those involved reportedly suffered from minor injuries.

Electricity is provided via Kentucky Utilities in the city limits.

In the county, more than 2,000 people were affected by outages. As the storm moved through, South Kentucky RECC through its Facebook page reported that several circuits, including the Woodstock/Ocala circuit, the Eagle’s Nest circuit and the Tateville circuit. Several other smaller outages were reported as well.

Joy Bullock, with South Kentucky RECC, said crews were sent out immediately, but the storm’s frequent lightning made it too dangerous for the co-op to restore electricity as quickly as possible.

“Due to the storm's length and intensity, especially with the lightning, it was difficult for us to restore power as quickly as we wanted,” Bullock wrote in an email on Monday. “Crews, however, worked until they got everyone restored at around midnight.”

The storm’s frequent cloud-to-ground lightning continued for several hours after the system first began sweeping through the area.

A pocket of about 50 customers, located around six miles north of Somerset in the Ky. 39 area, were without power from around 6 p.m. Saturday to 1 a.m. Sunday.

Bullock said trees fell on the lines in that area, and so debris had to be removed before work could be completed. She added that the torrential downpour caused some issues, including truck hang-ups due to the muddy conditions.

Bullock said RECC crews were back out on Sunday to complete repairs.

“We did have to continue working through Sunday to correct some of the after-math of the storm,” Bullock said.