Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

January 30, 2013

Brisk winds plague area residents Tuesday

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Blustery, forceful winds plagued area residents Tuesday, in some cases starting  tiny fires, downing power lines and generally causing minor but widespread difficulties.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White said as of 3:30 p.m. there had been reports of multiple wires down throughout town and many ambulance calls – and the worst winds were expected to strike even later in the day.

"Some folks don't have electricity, but I don't think the big winds have even hit yet," the fire chief said. "It's supposed to get worse later this afternoon. We'll probably have a lot more power lines down tis evening."

Charles Hill, Oncor's regional customer operations manager, said about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday that the power company was dealing with the problems.

 "Today we have had about 1,000 customers in Jacksonville with power out from two different outages," Hill explained. "Both of them were tree-related due to the high winds and tree limbs breaking. Right now we have about 65 customers out – almost everybody is back on now."

He anticipated all repairs would be completed within a couple of hours.

The balmy, unseasonably warm weather, and grim, overcast skies certainly didn't distract from the gloom of the day. Showers and thunderstorms were expected toward the evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Officials said the damage caused by winds wasn't necessarily catastrophic, but certainly was vexing.

"When it's windy, any little fire can get out of hand very quickly," said Mo Raissi, Jacksonville city manager. "At one point they thought they saw smoke coming out of a warehouse, but it was nothing."

Meanwhile, according to the National Weather Service, Wednesday is expected to be sunny, with a high near 59, but the northwest winds of 15 to 20 mph were expected to be accompanied by gusts as high as 30 mph. Wednesday evening is expected to be mostly clear with a low around 32 and lessening winds of 5 to 10 mph, the NWS report states.

Thursday should be sunny, with a high near 65 and Southwest wind 5 to 15 mph. Thursday even-ing was predicted to be mostly clear, with a low around 37. Friday should be sunny, with a high near 63, the weather service reported.

Hill said Oncor crews would be prepared if the staunch winds continued.

"We have crews at all our service centers ready to go back to work should there be any further issues," Hill said.

"We have opened up our storm response center in Tyler to watch the storms come through and be as prepared as we can."