The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

March 31, 2014

Storm downs giant trees at Knoebels, knocks out power to 1,000

— SUNBURY — A freak Sunday snow and ice storm that knocked down trees and power lines in portions of eastern Northumberland County left more than 1,000 PPL customers without power through much of Monday, a company spokeswoman said.

A majority of the customers without power were in Shamokin Township, where the number was 484; Ralpho Township, 220; East Cameron Township, 104; and West Cameron Township, 79.

Power was expected to be restored to everyone by 11 p.m. Monday, said Teri MacBride, of PPL.

About eight inches of snow fell on Knoebels Amusement Resort, near Elysburg, park spokesman Joe Muscato said. “We lost a large tree, which came down behind the band shell,” he said. “It was a beautiful tree. We had several others come down, but not on or near any of the rides. We were lucky. They fell in empty lanes and areas. The snow was a wet, heavy snow.”

Cleanup crews cleared away the fallen trees, branches and other debris on Monday, Muscato said. “None of this will affect our opening day, but certainly there were a lot of other things we’d rather have been doing.” The park will open for the season on April 26.

PPL was on alert beginning Sunday night, MacBride said.

Heavy rain squalls turned into narrow bands of heavy snow, and it wasn’t unusual for some areas, like Elysburg, Danville and Shamokin, to get snow, while Sunbury and Milton got virtually nothing.

“It was around 8 p.m. when we started getting calls about outages,” MacBride said.

The biggest problem was with a transmitter line at the Augustaville substation. “It went out at 11:30 p.m. Sunday,” she said. “One thousand, four hundred, ninety-eight customers were immediately affected. We had to shut down the station and re-route the lines.”

Power was restored to those customers by 1:30 a.m. Monday.

“The biggest problem we had was the large number of jobs — what you might call problem areas or incidents,” she explained. The worst of it came when the number of problems reached 130.

“We always start by dealing with those incidents that affect the most customers,” MacBride said, “and that’s exactly what we did on Monday. Problem was there were more incidents than we had personnel.”

PPL called on crews from as far away as Harrisburg and Lancaster County to help out.

“It was the complexity of the jobs that was the holdup,” she said. “Transformers down, lines out, fallen trees and branches, all of that contributed to a pretty hectic day, but we were committed to restoring power as soon as we could.”

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