While Surry County was expected to be spared the brunt of yesterday’s high winds, officials were keeping a careful eye on the weather, noting that already-saturated ground could result in toppled trees.
Late Friday morning Surry County Emergency Services Director John Shelton said the county already has been experiencing some problems.
“We’ve already had some trees down, but it’s been spotty,” he said. “We haven’t had any major power outages or things yet, but we’ve had a few situations and if (the wind) keeps going today we are expecting a few more.”
According to the National Weather Service, Surry County spent much of Friday reeling under cold temperatures and stronger-than-normal winds.
“You’re seeing some sustained winds of about 15 miles per hour, with gusts up to 25 miles per hour,” said Mike Sporer, meteorologist. “In the mountains, and nearby Alleghany County, there is significantly higher winds.”
The wind speeds don’t seem that dangerous, but Sporer said the wet ground could play a factor. He noted that over the past month, the county has received 9.93 inches of rain, with more than a quarter of that falling over the past “couple of days.”
“The ground is so saturated we’re concerned that some of the more shallow-rooted trees and bushes could be blown over by winds that normally wouldn’t present any major problems,” he said. “That’s one of the things we worry about, because it’s very, very difficult to have a strong grasp on what the outcome will be.”
But Shelton said the county was prepared for any eventuality.
“Most of what we’ve been doing all week with the past winter storm and knowing this was coming is first of all securing our backup generators at our communications center, communication towers, the sheriff’s office and other agencies,” he said. “We’re working with the local fire departments to make sure they’re ready in case they have to help us secure areas where trees or power lines have fallen.”
Shelton called the high winds after so much rain a “very dangerous” situation.
“A lot of the time when we get trees falling on power lines we have to wait on the power companies to come and disconnect the lines before we can go in and clean up the trees,” he said.
Reach Keith Strange at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.