High winds disrupt power service

ELKINS – A rain storm coupled with high winds knocked out power in parts of Randolph, Upshur and Lewis counties early Sunday morning.

FirstEnergy reported that power outages in the region had largely been repaired by Sunday evening, when there were only a handful of customers still without power in Upshur County.

At 7 p.m. Sunday, however, there had been more than 200 Upshur County residents without power. At one point on Sunday, as many as 1,000 Lewis County homes were without electricity.

Wind gusts up to 60 mph were reported in parts of West Virginia overnight Saturday. By Sunday morning, FirstEnergy was working to restore power to 5,067 homes and businesses across the state.

The storm came on the heels of an unseasonably warm Saturday – the first official day of winter – when several high-temperature records were broken across the state.

Saturday’s high in Elkins of 74 degrees broke the existing record for the date, while temperatures of 75 degrees in Charleston, 75 degrees in Huntington and 67 degrees in Beckley also broke records, according to the National Weather Service.

The break from wintry weather isn’t expected to last long. Temperatures could plunge into the upper 20s on Tuesday, according to the NWS forecast. A chance of snow showers is predicted for tonight, with a low around 24. On Tuesday, more snow is likely, mainly before 2 p.m., with a high near 24.

The NWS forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-30s, with sunny skies, on Christmas Day.

Philadelphia, New York and Atlantic City, N.J., are among the major Northeast cities that broke temperature records during a brief weekend heat wave.

The National Weather Service says New York hit 71 degrees on Sunday.

That tops the previous mark of 63 degrees set in 1998.

Newark, N.J., reached 71 degrees and bested the previous high of 65 degrees set in 1998.

Atlantic City reached 68 degrees on Sunday. That broke the previous mark of 65 degrees set in 1998.

Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del., both reached 67 degrees. That broke Philadelphia’s record of 64 degrees set in 1998 and bested Wilmington’s previous high of 64 degrees set in 1984 and 1998.

Several major Northeast cities also broke records on Saturday, when the temperatures reached into the high 60s.

A storm with a 2,000-mile footprint frustrated Christmas travelers Saturday from Texas to Nova Scotia with a little of everything Mother Nature has to offer, from freezing rain, ice and snow to flooding, thunderstorms and even tornadoes.

Some of the millions of people who hit the roads and airports by midday Saturday squeaked through before any major weather had hit, but the cancellations and flight delays started to mount as the afternoon wore on.

Forecasters warned motorists that roads that seemed passable one minute could turn treacherous the next, as a cold blast on the storm’s back end turns rain to ice and snow.

The system’s strange swirl of winter and spring-like conditions produced starkly different weather at times in areas separated by a couple hundred miles. While drivers in Oklahoma and eastern Missouri were navigating ice-slicked streets Saturday, residents in Memphis, Tenn., were strolling around in T-shirts in spring-like temperatures in the mid-60s.

By Saturday night, a line of thunderstorms stretching from southern Louisiana to Indiana began wreaking havoc, causing rivers and creeks to swell, flooding roads and spawning winds strong enough to force cars and trucks off of highways. At least two suspected tornadoes touched down in Arkansas, injuring a total of five people and damaging nearly two-dozen homes in or near the towns of Dermott and Hughes.

And a man in Rena Lara, Miss., was killed Saturday when wind flipped his mobile home.

“This is a particularly strong storm with very warm, near record-breaking temperatures in the East and very cold air in the Midwest, and that contrast is the sort of conditions that are favorable for not only winter weather but also tornadoes,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Danaher in College Park, Md.

Nationwide, nearly 500 flights had been canceled Saturday and more than 7,000 were delayed, according to aviation tracking website FlightAware.com.

Most of the disruptions were affecting flights in and out of airports that serve as major hubs, including Chicago’s O’Hare, Houston’s Bush International, Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver International.