Originally created 05/03/04

Storm cuts power to thousands



Strong thunderstorms pounded Augusta and nearby areas with torrential rainfall and heavy winds Sunday afternoon, causing property damage and several power outages.

At about 3:15 p.m., the National Weather Service's West Columbia, S.C., office issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Richmond County. Doppler radar indicated a storm 12 miles southwest of Augusta moving northeast at 35 mph.

Reports at Augusta Regional Airport revealed that the brief but powerful storm produced 74 mph winds, said Jeff Barlow, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's West Columbia office.

The storm cut a wide path through Georgia and South Carolina.

Mr. Barlow said Richmond County Emergency Management reported fallen trees and traffic problems related to the storm.

Storm damage in Aiken County was limited to fallen trees, power outages and multiple traffic accidents, said Jeff Malcolm, the dispatch supervisor for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

The storm also cut off power for many residents.

At the height of the storm, 5,000 South Carolina Electric and Gas customers were without power, company spokeswoman Mary Greenbrown said.

By 6 p.m. Sunday, 2,000 customers in Aiken, Jackson, Silver Bluff and Beech Island were still without electricity, Ms. Greenbrown said.

The storm also knocked out three electrical circuits in North Augusta, she added. But by 5:15 p.m., one circuit had been turned back on, Ms. Greenbrown said.

Lynn Wallace, a spokeswoman for Georgia Power, said the storm cut off power for about 2,300 Augusta customers. The company had all but 500 customers' power turned back on by 7 p.m., and those hit harder should have had power restored by midnight, Ms. Wallace said.

Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or kate.lewis@augustachronicle.com.