Winds knock down trees, cut off power around area

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Gusting winds Wednesday afternoon knocked down trees and power lines in Cape Girardeau County, causing outages primarily in the city of Cape Girardeau. Weather forecasters were calling for a slight risk of severe thunderstorms in the area late Wednesday, but winds were expected to diminish.

The strongest gust recorded at the county administrative building in Jackson was only 23 mph, but a 44 mph gust was clocked at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport. Strong winds are common in the spring because of the big contrast between high and low pressure systems and because warming temperatures make the atmosphere more unstable.

Winds downed wires, knocking out the traffic lights at Broadway and Kingshighway for nearly two hours beginning at 12:23 p.m. and at Kingshighway and Mount Auburn Road for about 30 minutes. Police officers directed traffic during those periods.

Tim Gramling, assistant public works director in Cape Girardeau, said two or three trees were reported down in the city and several limbs were in the street. One of the felled trees was in front of the residence at 701 Bellevue, where owners Don and Carolyn Thomasson had just won a landscaping award.

Power also was out along Route Y for part of the afternoon. At the peak of the outage Wednesday afternoon, 581 customers were without power, according to Michael K. Holman, manager of AmerenUE. By 4:12 p.m., only three residential customers in the county remained without power.

County crews were called to remove trees from County Road 228 between Delta and Advance, County Road 262 near Delta, the intersection of county roads 329 and 335 northwest of Gordonville and County Road 621 near the Jaycee Municipal Golf Course. The downed tree near the golf course caused a power outage.

Charlie Griffith, deputy coordinator of the Cape Girardeau County Office of Emergency Preparedness, said all the trees had been cut up and removed from the roads by midafternoon.

No problems caused by winds were reported in Scott, Perry or Bollinger counties.

A sudden gust turned off the power in about half of Poplar Bluff Wednesday morning. All three fire stations in the city had to use their backup generators.

A ground line that connects the city to the main power line snapped during the gust because of several days of stronger-than-normal winds, according to Doug Bagby, general manager of Municipal Utilities. He called the outage "a little bit of a freak thing."

The Daily American Republic in Poplar Bluff contributed to this report.

335-6611, extension 182

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