Storm knocks out trees, power to Morgantown area

After a day of 90-degree weather in Morgantown, a brief storm swept through the area Tuesday afternoon, quickly cooling temperatures by 20 degrees. 

While the sudden drop may have been a short relief from the heat, the storm caused a lot of destruction on the ground, taking out several trees and powerlines throughout the county. 

The storm produced massive wind gusts, according to Shannon Hefferan, meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Pittsburgh, with one gust clocking 58 mph around 3 p.m. at the Morgantown Municipal Airport. 

The Monongalia County Emergency Management Agency (MECCA) and NWS received multiple reports of trees down and fallen power poles and lines, which backed up traffic in several locations. 

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, MECCA officials said there had been at least four reports of trees falling into homes or other structures with the Brookhaven, Star City and Morgantown areas seeing the most damage. 

“It was definitely a downburst situation,” Hefferan said. “We’re very unstable with the hot air mass and any kind of storm can create an icy core and that icy core will descend to the surface and pretty much create wind damage.” 

Because that icy core drops, the temperature also drops. Hefferan said Tuesday’s temperatures dropped from 91-92 degrees to 71 degrees following the storm. It was back up to the 80s by 5:30 p.m.

While some rain and hail may also be involved with these storms, the main threat is the wind, she said. 

The wind is what caused the majority of the damage to the area, which also left around 11,600 homes without power in the greater Morgantown area, according to Mon Power outage estimates. 

No power also means no air conditioning once temperatures climb back into the 90s on Wednesday. 

Tuesday evening, Mon Power was working to restore power to the area as quickly as possible. 

As the heat continues throughout the week, there will be additional possibilities for similar storms to hit the area. 

“It’s going to be this isolated chance and it’s not going to be widespread,” Hefferan said, “but during these peak heating periods we could see storms that could be very strong and potentially severe.”