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June 28, 2011 7:52 am

Wind blows over tree, snaps power pole

Written by Ilene Olson

A power pole snapped in two at about 8 p.m. Thursday after a freak wind blew a tree onto power lines near Lane 7 and U.S. 14-A.

Steve Reimer of Garland Light and Power said the pole broke off about 8 feet above the ground, which he said is very uncommon.

The top section of the pole hung suspended just above Lane 7, with the splintered end jutting into the ground on the edge of the road. All three electrical lines on the pole still were active, Reimer said.

The Powell Volunteer Fire Department responded, keeping traffic away from the area until power to all three lines was cut.

Power to the 450 affected residences was restored in about one hour, Reimer said.

Though it lasted only for a few minutes, the windstorm, likely spawned by a nearby thunderstorm, packed some powerful gusts.

Chris Jones, of the National Weather Service in Riverton, said the tree and power pole likely succumbed to a microburst.

“Sometimes, the atmosphere can become warm and dry in layers below the cloud. The higher the cloud base, the better the chance, in environment, that the rain evaporates. When that happens, it can form microbursts. You see very little rainfall, but you get gusts of 40-60 mph.

“They can happen quickly. You can be outside, and one minute later, it’s a different environment. And you go out 10 minutes later, and it’s back to normal.”

Jones said two reporting stations in Powell indicated wind gusts of 41-42 mph, while a third recorded a gust of 58 mph around the time the power pole snapped.

“Interestingly, since that time we’ve had no wind reports from that station. I don’t know if it was hit by something that was flying, or what. That’s probably what happened.”

Whatever the cause, “it was a weird wind,” Reimer said. “I live a couple of miles from there, and I haven’t seen a wind like that in quite a while. We don’t need too many of them.”

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