WATAUGA — Wind gusts that exceeded 100 mph at mountain peaks caused damage to several power lines across the High Country during the night of Dec. 4-5.
Local power utility Blue Ridge Energy reported that at the peak of the wind storm, a maximum of 2,529 members across Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany and Caldwell counties were without power at the same time. The number was down to 390 by 1 p.m. on Dec. 5, most in Watauga County.
"Line technicians are battling damaging winds and frigid conditions while working to restore outages in the cooperative’s service area," BRE stated. "Most outages occurred as a result of trees outside of right-of-way areas being toppled by high winds."
In total, BRE said there were 102 damaged locations across Ashe, Watauga, Alleghany and Caldwell counties, affecting power to a combined total of 5,800 members at various points over the course of the night.
The Watauga County Communications Center reported that U.S. 421 South at the Watauga and Wilkes county line was closed for a time due to downed power lines across the road.
Due to wind damage, Ashe County Schools closed on Dec. 5, with damage occurring at Ashe County High School's auditorium, according to media reports.
Wind gusts were commonly more than 60 mph in lower elevations. According to the N.C. Climate Retrieval and Observations Network of the Southeast Database, or CRONOS Database, wind gusts at the Mile High Bridge at the Grandfather Mountain topped 106.5 mph in the 3 a.m. hour of Dec. 5.
Blue Ridge Energy encourages members to report outages by calling 1-800-448-2383 or by using the Blue Ridge Energy mobile app. If BRE encounter any downed lines, stay away! Downed lines can remain energized. Contact with downed lines can be dangerous, or even deadly. Members are urged to report any downed lines to Report downed lines at 1-800-451-5474 or call 911 immediately.