High winds from a Northeasterner storm last Thursday and Friday were reminiscent of the late June 2012 derecho that crippled electrical power in Botetourt and other parts of Virginia— and gave credence to the adage about March coming in like a lion.
The wind got the blame for causing an equipment failure at the Trinity electrical substation on Country Club Road at the intersection of US 220 Thursday at about 9:15 p.m.
The resulting “light show” was visible from many parts of the area, and had US 220 and Country Club Road residents and traffic taking pause while the sparks flew.
When the substation went out, about 4,000 Appalachian Power Co. (APCo) customers in that area that included the Town of Fincastle lost power.
Meanwhile, the winds started taking out trees and tree limbs, breaking some power poles and shorting out sections of the electrical grid across the county— for APCo, Dominion Power and a few Craig-Botetourt Electric Cooperative customers.
Botetourt County offices and courts were closed Friday because there was no power in Fincastle, and Botetourt schools closed for the day, too.
APCo was able to get the substation up and running with a mobile transformer Friday evening while other APCo crews and contractors worked on restoring power to the many other pockets where outages were reported.
The outages stretched across the Roanoke and New River Valleys, and east of the Blue Ridge and beyond, prompting Gov. Ralph Northam to declare a statewide State of Emergency on Friday.
The high winds were also blamed for breaking a power line near Buchanan that started a small wildfire on Purgatory Mountain Road. That fire was contained with a bulldozer line by Buchanan and Botetourt firefighters and the Department of Forestry.
According to APCo, at the peak of the outages, 75,000 of its Virginia customers were without power.
The company reported more than 1,300 workers, including local line employees, tree crews and contractors, worked to restore electric service.
Most Botetourt power customers had power restored by Sunday.
— Ed McCoy