A winter storm system that has been working its way across the country has reached the mid-Atlantic, and area residents are already feeling its impact. Power outages are being reported by the tens of thousands throughout the region.
Virginia's Dominion Electric is reporting over 91,000 people without power as of 11:00 a.m. on March 6. Nearly 70,000 of those outages are from out of the Shenandoah Valley/Western Piedmont region.
Overall, The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is reporting 160,000 without power from various companies across the state.
Up to 160,000 w/o power in Virginia #vasnow #vawx #snowquester— VDEM (@VDEM) March 6, 2013
FirstEnergy is reporting over 18,900 customers in West Virginia who are without power. An additional 4,100 Appalachian Power customers have lost electricity in parts of West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
Nearly 600 Maryland residents with FirstEnergy are without power. Pennsylvania FirstEnergy is reporting over 2,300 outages. Numbers in the nation's capitol are still low but slowly rising as the storm builds into the area.
There have been 17 outages affecting over 500 Delmarva Power customers.
Heavier snow causes power outages to be especially common during early- and late-season storms. At the start and end of winter, temperatures tend to be higher. This change in temperature, even if only by a few degrees, can make a big difference in the consistency of snow. When surface temperatures are well below freezing, snow stays light and powdery. When snow falls on ground that is just above freezing, it melts slightly, which adds more moisture to the snow that accumulates. This results in heavier, stickier snow that not only weighs down power lines, it also weighs down tree branches that hang over power lines, causing them to snap under the weight. Moisture-laden snow is also more likely to develop a heavy layer of ice when the temperatures drop overnight.