Frosty the pumpkin?

By on November 2, 2011

By: ANGELA CABEZAS Review Staff, Staff Writer

A sight we may never see again -- a carved pumpkin sitting atop a snowman in Ephrata Saturday following the record-breaking October snowstorm. (Photo by Donna Stauffer)A sight we may never see again -- a carved pumpkin sitting atop a snowman in Ephrata Saturday following the record-breaking October snowstorm. (Photo by Donna Stauffer)

What do you get when you combine fall leaves with winter weather?

The answer is, thousands of cold, dark houses.

According to the Lancaster New Era, Oct. 29’s freak nor’easter dumped four to 10 inches of snow throughout the county, weighing down trees’ still-leafy branches. These leaves kept much of the snow from sliding off, instead allowing it to pile up until the tree limbs were at their breaking point.

"The problem was that the leaves were not off the trees yet," said Tim Zimmerman, superintendent of Ephrata Borough’s electric division, "so the snow hung on more. It was wet, and conditions were just right for it to accumulate. It was live branches and trees that came down, and we had some big ones."

These fallen "big ones" resulted in around 1,400 power outages for Borough residents on Saturday. The majority of these outages were resolved within three hours, though a few customers waited up to seven hours due to damages that had to be repaired at their property before power could be restored. By Sunday, all residents but one were once again enjoying heat and light.

"There was only one house that was out (of electricity) overnight, and that was because it was up in the Ephrata mountain, and we could not safely get to it because the trees were falling," Zimmerman said.

The county’s PPL customers did not fare quite so well. The company has been in a storm emergency since 10 a.m. Oct. 29, and there were nearly 50,000 power outages experienced by the company’s customers in Lancaster County alone; 2,579 of those were still without electricity as of Tuesday afternoon. PPL spokesmen rank the storm as one the worst in 20 years as far as outages go, according to a recent article in the Intelligencer Journal.

Besides causing power outages, falling trees were also a problem?on the roadways. "One of the biggest impacts were trees down blocking Route 322," said Ephrata Police Chief William Harvey, and one tree "between Bethany and Akron Road we had to leave closed until Sunday morning. It put the crews in great danger to try to remove these trees while they were under such a snow load."

Overall, though, Harvey seemed pleased with how things turned out over the weekend.

"We had five crews of public work groups, and they all did splendid work under the conditions," he said. "We were committed to getting everything under control the best we could.

"Also, once again, we had many reports of neighbors coming out and helping direct traffic until fire police got there, neighbors helping neighbors, contributing to safety, etc.," Harvey said. "We had no injuries and no deaths, and though we did have a few minor accidents, there was nothing of major consequence."

Zimmerman, too, pronounced satisfaction with the work done in the Borough, especially since the storm had been more severe than he’d expected. "I think it turned out worse than they had predicted," he said. "It was the first time for me that it" got this bad, this early, "and I’ve been here about 26 years." More SNOW, page A18

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