Trick or treat – October snow brings power outages

Over 18k in northern valley lost power as wet snow brought limbs down on lines

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

Alright, I’ll admit it – me and some friends gathered at The Melting Pot for pizza and Game 7 of the World Series were making fun of the weather station predicting from 3-5 to 6-10 inches and then back to 4-6 inches of snow for Saturday, Oct. 29th. After all the low temperature forecast for the next day was somewhere between 35 and 38 degrees; recent daily high temperatures have been from 50 to 60, even clipping 70 a time or two.

No frozen ground, above freezing temperatures – no problem, right?


There it was sticking to car windshields and tree limbs around 6:30 AM the next day … but nothing on the streets – SEE, told you so!

Rolled over and went back to sleep.

Uh oh, when I finally rolled out of bed around 10:30 AM the streets were covered, tree limbs were sagging and coming down under the weight of the heavy, wet snow accumulating, not only on branches, but also the leaves yet to have fallen off most trees.

Uh, maybe we should get to the store – the cupboard looks pretty bare.

Got to Martin’s before noon – darn, looks a little dark in there.

Power is out, running on generators for emergency lights. Suddenly an announcement the store would no longer be selling perishables and refrigerated items as store personnel began wrapping some displays, veggies, cheese, that kind of thing in plastic. Patrons were asked not to open refrigerator doors as store management tried to preserve what cooling was contained inside.

We were headed to Food Lion when another customer said, no, the town’s other major grocery store had also closed up produce and perishable sections due top the power outage.

Traffic lights were out along South Street but on once we got up to South Royal Avenue and north they were on, hopefully an indicator residential and commercial power was on there as well.

SVEC report

Got home and found a press release from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, now one of two primary northern valley regional power providers. They reported 529 customers in Warren without power out of a total of about 12,500 from Winchester (4987), Frederick (1716) to Page (669), Rockingham (2110) and Augusta (1586) Counties, with warning of more trouble as the day progressed with forecast winds adding to the trouble of ongoing accumulation.

“ … as the day continues, more power outages may occur due to accumulated snow, forecasted winds and trees breaking on power lines. During an event such as this, ‘Blinking’ of lights may also occur. In addition, with the forecast amount of snow, there is a chance for an outage to last an extended period of time,” the SVEC press release sent out at 11:41 AM stated.

REC report

On Sunday, Oct. 30, we received this update from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, which along with SVEC picked up the bulk of the northern valley’s former Allegheny Power service contracts last year.

“Fredericksburg, Va. – Rappahannock Electric Cooperative’s (REC) crews are continuing to make repairs on lines and equipment in Clarke, Warren, Rappahannock and Frederick counties as well as the Town of Stevens City and Berryville. Currently we have 2,200 members without power. This early winter snow storm has caused lots of damage. The heavy wet snow coupled with the fact that leaves are still on the trees have caused many limbs and trees to fall. The mountainous terrain has proven difficult during today’s restoration efforts. With assistance from the REC Bowling Green and Culpeper districts as well at Northern Neck Electric Cooperative and other contract crews, the Cooperative is making progress.”

REC asked customers to report ongoing problems at 1 (800) 552-3904 or online, at

On Oct. 31st REC spokesperson Ann Lewis told us all but about 500 northern valley customers’ service had been restored. Peak outages came around 4 PM on the Saturday of the storm, with 6,253 customers without power in the valley. Of those, 159 were in Warren County, Lewis said.

Town collects branches

In Front Royal the snow appeared to have stopped between 2 PM and 3 PM. It looked like about 3 inches in our yard. Town crews had cleared not only the main roads, but side streets were also largely cleared in midtown by 3 PM.

The town announced the pick up of downed branches from Halloween, Oct. 31st through Thursday, Nov. 3rd.

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