Region sees power outages and winds knock down trees, utility poles and power lines
More than 100,000 customers were without power Wednesday, as high winds — which hit 81 mph at the Greater Rochester International Airport — were hitting western New York.
The outage numbers were listed by RG&E and National Grid and includes the Rochester area and areas to the west. As of shortly after 9:30 p.m. Wednesday, there were 90,564 RG&E customers without power in Monroe County and 8,605 in Wayne County (the majority in the towns of Ontario and Walworth).
Ontario County was spared the harshest winds and the worst ravages, with 65 customers without power by 9:30 (including 22 in the Morrow Hill Road area in Bristol).
According to the RG&E website, most of the outages in Monroe County were along Lake Ontario in Greece, Irondequoit and Webster. Gates also had thousands of customers without power.
The towns of Irondequoit and Greece declared a State of Emergency after winds knocked down trees, utility poles and power lines across the area. Town officials told residents not to make any unnecessary trips — including on foot. The Livingston County Sheriff's Office issued no unnecessary travel warnings in the towns of York and Caledonia. Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo issued an advisory, asking residents to avoid unnecessary travel.
The state Department of Transportation told truckers to keep empty tractor trailers off expressways in the Rochester area. Governor Andrew Cuomo said the ban on empty tractor trailers was in effect for routes 390, 490, and 590. Loaded and empty tractor trailers were also banned on the Thruway between exits 45 and 47.
A row of utility poles along Winton Road were brought down by the wind Wednesday. Firefighters say 14 poles were down north of Jefferson Road near the Brighton/Henrietta town border.
Multiple flights were diverted at the Rochester airport Wednesday afternoon. Flights from New York City, Philadelphia, Tampa, Detroit, Washington D.C., Toronto and Chicago were listed as diverted on the airport's website.
A number of school districts in the hardest-hit area, including many schools in Monroe, Genesee and Orleans counties, have canceled Thursday classes.
As the windy weather continued into the evening Wednesday, it was not clear when power might be restored.
Wednesday's hurricane-force wind gusts were keeping tree service companies busy. Terry Schmitz, the general manager of Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care, said, "There's a lot of tree climbers that have been working from the storm last week. Some of the ones that we've worked with are subcontractors. They just finished up today and they're having to deal with the wind again."
Schmitz said cutting down trees could prevent a close call and a costly cleanup the next time a wind storm rolls through the region. His advice: Call a professional. "People have a hard time visualizing if something has a potential for falling. It just comes down in windstorms like this," he said.
Their subcontractors have had to cancel tree trimmings scheduled Wednesday due to dangerous conditions. At times like these, Schmitz also reminds that trees growing near power lines can be dangerous and cause power outages.