Winter storm causes widespread damage

A crew from Parkside Utility Construction works to clear the roadway on Route 62 in front of Minich's Towing and Recovery where utility poles fell after trees had fallen on the wires earlier in the day. (By Richard Sayer)
From staff reports

A winter storm on Thursday that brought sleet, freezing rain and snow into the region also brought down trees and power lines, leaving more than 25,000 electrical customers without service by Friday.

Venango County 911 said it received at least 50 calls about downed trees and utility lines by 3:30 p.m. Friday.

A 911 dispatcher said very few accidents occurred throughout the day, but that storm damage was experienced countywide.

“Most of the damage is tree and power lines down, and it ranges from Emlenton all the way to Cherrytree,” the dispatcher said.

Route 62 was closed from its intersection with Route 157 to the intersection with Route 257 in Cranberry Township at about 1 p.m. due to at least six downed utility poles. Venango County 911 said the road reopened at about 5:30 p.m.

In Clarion County, most of the damage occurred south of Interstate 80, with 41 trees down between 7 p.m. Thursday and 7 a.m. Friday, according to Clarion County 911.

As of 3:30 p.m. Friday, a 911 dispatcher could only say there had been “a lot” of weather-related calls throughout the day.

The only accident reported overnight involved a car striking a downed tree, the dispatcher said. No injuries resulted from that crash, which occurred on McEwen Road in Piney Township.

Electrical service providers

First Energy: As of 3:30 p.m., First Energy reported 125 customers in the Oil City area and 125 in the Knox were without power.

“Our crews are making progress,” First Energy spokesperson Scott Surgeoner said Friday afternoon. “We expect all to have service late this evening prior to midnight.”

About 5,500 customers experienced power outages in the Oil City area, as well as 3,600 in the Knox area, Surgeoner said.

He said that in First Energy’s districts, the Oil City area includes all of Venango County.

Central Electric: As of 4:40 p.m., Central Electric reported about 16,300 of its members were without service. Late Friday afternoon, Central Electric was unable to provide an estimated repair time due to the widespread outages.

Members were reminded to stay away from downed power lines and not attempt to clear trees or debris from power lines.

Central Electric’s service area includes Venango, Clarion, Forest, Mercer, Armstrong and Butler counties.


Service provided by Comcast, which includes Venango and Clarion counties, was down for most of Friday. Service between Oil City and Clarion did not return until about 3:45 p.m. Friday.