- The Washington Times - Friday, February 23, 2007

Utility crews were busy yesterday restoring electricity knocked out by gale-force winds that left thousands of customers across the region without service.

As many as 60,000 residents had no electricity from Thursday night through yesterday, from wind gusts that reached 45 mph.

Utility company officials said crews had the outages under control by midday, but they expected additional outages until the winds subsided in the afternoon.

There were no reports of major damage or traffic accidents. However, the region was under a wind advisory yesterday until 10 a.m., and the Maryland Department of Transportation warned motorists crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, particularly those in box trucks or on motorcycles, to use caution.

Baltimore Gas & Electric spokeswoman Linda Foy said most of the outages were likely caused by tree limbs weakened by the ice storm last week that caused more than 180,000 outages in the region.

“It doesn’t even take a strong wind to take down [trees] because they were already weakened,” she said. The recent warm spell also softened the ground enough for trees to uproot and fall.

Miss Foy said customers began reporting wind-related outages Thursday at 4:15 p.m. and that the highest number was 4,600 yesterday at 1 a.m.

She also said at least 18,000 customers had been affected.

Pepco spokesman Bob Dobkin said the company, which primarily serves the District, had as many as 9,000 outages Thursday night and had cut the number in half by yesterday morning.

Dominion spokeswoman Le-Ha Anderson said at least 36,000 customers were affected in Northern Virginia.

More heavy weather is expected this weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for much of the region from late tonight through late Sunday night. Agency forecasters predict a chance of freezing rain and sleet followed by periods of rain.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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