Strong winds knock out power, down trees in midstate

High winds reaching 60 mph Wednesday interrupted traffic, downed tree limbs and knocked out power to thousands of midstate residents.

Mike Leary, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said a cold front carrying a strong jet system caused the heavy wind gusts throughout the morning and afternoon.

“Every once and a while, back winds do tend to influence the surface winds, along with the pressure gradient,” he said. “It’s not super unusual to experience what you experienced when a strong system comes through.”

Authorities in Macon and Bibb County responded to traffic light outages at intersections across the city and county as city officials noted damaged traffic signals and street signs in the area.

“It was a pretty dangerous day to be on a construction site,” Leary said.

Johnny Wingers, director of the Macon-Bibb County Emergency Management Agency, said trees that became cracked during the Mother’s Day tornado but have yet to fall are especially hazardous during windy weather.

“When the winds come along like this, it’s very unsafe,” he said.

Downed tree limbs and power lines were aplenty Wednesday.

Macon-Bibb County firefighters responded to a small fire near Rivoli and Billingswood drives, where a power line had fallen and were ablaze; Bibb County sheriff’s deputies responded to a minor vehicle accident on Interstate 75 south near Bass Road, where a tree had fallen on a car; and authorities had to clear a power line from across Carey Road in south Bibb County.

Flashing lights stalled traffic at various intersections in the city and county, including Mercer University Drive and Pio Nono Avenue, and Skipperton Road and Hartley Bridge Road.

Traffic lights went completely blank near the Gray Highway Wal-Mart, and along Riverside Drive and College Street.

The incidents were cleared by 4:30 p.m., according to authorities.

However, many Georgia Power customers remained without power into the evening.

Konswello Monroe, a company spokeswoman, said 860 Middle Georgia residents, including 269 in Macon and a large number in Milledgeville, were without electricity at 5:15 p.m.

The outages in Macon were scattered across the city, she said.

“We’ve got crews working safely and diligently. I don’t anticipate that they’ll be without power tomorrow,” Monroe said.

Strong winds also caused scattered power outages across Houston and Crawford counties, a Flint Energies spokesman said.

About 1,800 customers were without power at the peak of the outage after winds downed lines or trees that then knocked down lines, said Kelly Trapnell, interim manager of public relations.

A few outages were also reported in Taylor County, she said.

Crews worked to restore power as quickly as possible, Trapnell said.

Sporadic outages were experienced overnight as a storm moved through the area and escalated throughout the day with the high winds, she said.

People were urged to use extreme caution around downed power lines, Trapnell said.

Staff writer Becky Purser contributed information to this report. To contact writer Ashley Tusan Joyner, call 744-4347.