Lightning and hail knocks out power to thousands in Bridgeton - News

Lightning and hail knocks out power to thousands in Bridgeton - News

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Lightning and hail knocks out power to thousands in Bridgeton

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Posted: Sunday, May 16, 2010 12:00 am

More than 812 customers remained without electricity at 12 a.m. Sunday in Cumberland County following a storm Friday night that at one point knocked out power to more than 5,000.

The storm caused “many wires to come down and many poles to be damaged,” including four spans of primary wires and more than four poles that were reported down, Atlantic City Electric spokesman Arthur Garcia said.

As of 10 p.m., 2,305 customers were still without power in Bridgeton and the surrounding communities, the utility’s online outage map showed, with additional outages scattered throughout Cumberland, Salem, Gloucester, Camden and Burlington counties, as well as in the Hammonton area.

Garcia said crews were out assessing damage and trying to fix the downed poles.

A meterologist for the National Weather Service said hail stones 1 to 2 inches across came down across the region Friday night in addition to rain. However, the rest of the weekend is expected to be dry through Monday night.

Bridgeton Fire Department Capt. Eugene Shelton said the damage consisted primarily of downed trees and wires, especially on Atlantic, Belmont and Fayette streets.

Sgt. Michael Pastirko said Bridgeton police received numerous calls starting about 8 p.m. Friday for fallen trees on houses and cars, snapped telephone poles and downed electrical wires from the storm.

Pastirko did not have an estimated dollar amount for the damage but expected it would be high and that the damage would take a while to fix.

“There’s just so many streets that have trees across them, I can’t give you specifics,” he said Saturday morning. “As of this time, no one is hurt. Everyone’s been safe in every house we checked on, which is what’s important. The rest can be cleaned up.”

Other areas of southern New Jersey saw only scattered damage.

The late spring hail- and thunderstorm was unusual, said Greg Heavener, of the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, Burlington County. It arrived between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Friday and lasted until midnight. Ice clumps rained down in Vineland, southern Dennis Township and other communities, along with torrential rain, Heavener said Saturday.

“It was a little surprising to see hail of that size — pea-size, dime-size is understandable. An inch to 2 inches is a little rare for us being so warm,” he said.

Atlantic City International Airport in Egg Harbor Township measured about a half-inch of rain.

Despite the warm temperatures, Heavener said all of the right weather ingredients were present Friday night to create the massive storms: an unstable atmosphere and rising dew point temperatures, “which basically adds more moisture and fuel for storms to feed on.”

“As the storms from back in central Pennsylvania worked their way east, they hit the unstable air mass over Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, and it pretty much exploded,” Heavener said. “It’s like adding a log to the fire.”

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