Strong winds leave thousands without power and create a mess for crews

CAMP HILL, CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. -- Today’s strong winds and gusts caused thousands of power outages throughout the state. Downed trees and limbs kept cleanup crews busy and created problems for drivers.

These strong winds can blow trucks with light loads all over the road, so drivers have to slow down and hold on tight.

As for power crews, one of their biggest concerns is branches which could come down while they work, and those branches caused thousands of the outages throughout our area.

Strong winds caused one tree to topple over onto power lines on North 27th Street in Camp Hill.

That caused a blackout for about 10 homeowners and left behind a mess for PPL field crews and tree cleanup services.

"Our guys are out in very adverse conditions. The weather conditions are pretty bad, the wind gusts. It’s a very dangerous job," said Charlie Brown, a field manager for PPL.

When the winds are strong like this, dead tree limbs hanging high above become a major safety hazard and crews say fallen branches were to blame for a majority of the outages in Central Pennsylvania.

It’s also a safety issue for the men and women who respond.

"We have to make it safe for us before we can even proceed to do our job," said Brown.

“It’s amazing all the work that can go into having to take a tree off a line, especially when you’re right here in someone’s backyard," said Jess Baker, a community relations manager with PPL.

"Line of fire, slip trips, and falls, things like that - we want to make sure we cover everything that can cause an injury or even a fatality," explained Brown.

Meanwhile in Franklin County, the high winds ripped the roof off one barn, and in Southern York County, tractor trailer drivers had to consider the gusts before hitting the road.

“Most of the drivers slowing down because it’s pushing you all over the place. I mean, all it would take is a 70 per mile hour gust to flip you over," said Jeffrey Martin, a driver with Sunrise Transportation.

Many are told to fill their trailer with pallets to add weight and slow down, or stop, if necessary...

"It's mostly slowing down and hanging onto the steering wheel," said Martin.

PPL crews will be out making repairs until all power is back on; officials say say people should stay away from any downed wires and be wary of dead tree limbs hanging in the trees.