CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A powerful thunderstorm accompanied by high wind and heavy rain swept eastward across West Virginia late Friday, uprooting trees, downing power lines, blocking roads, disabling traffic lights and bringing outdoor activities to a halt.
Appalachian Power Co. reported that the storm left more than 332,000 homes and businesses, or nearly 70 percent of its West Virginia customers, without power. In Kanawha County, 72,000 homes and businesses out of a total of 104,000 customers, were left without electricity.
Outage rates topped 90 percent in at least two West Virginia counties. In Nicholas, nearly 96 percent of that county's 2,685 customers lacked power, while in Roane County, only 10 percent of its 2,327 customers retained service.
Appalachian Power officials said they would work with local emergency-services officials to identify shelter locations to allow those still without power to escape temperatures expected to approach or surpass the 100-degree mark again Saturday.
Winds gusts of up to 78 mph were recorded at Charleston's Yeager Airport late Friday, causing a single-engine Cessna 152 to flip over on the tarmac adjacent to the Executive Air Terminal. At a nearby general aviation hangar, several large hangar doors were blown from their hinges and across the parking apron, coming to rest more than 100 feet away.
Late-afternoon and early-evening commercial flights to Yeager were diverted to Lexington, Ky., and Tri Cities, Tenn., while one departing flight to Charlotte was canceled.
Dozens of uprooted trees and several downed power lines blocked Coonskin Drive, trapping hundreds of people attending a West Virginia Chaos soccer game at the park's Schoenbaum Stadium or trying to escape Friday's 102-degree heat in the shady riverside park. The soccer game was canceled only minutes after its 7 p.m. start time because of the arrival of the storm.
West Virginia National Guard security personnel guided a long convoy of cars trapped in the park onto the runway apron adjacent to the 130th Airlift Wing, and then onto Yeager Airport's general aviation area. From there, the convoy passed through a security gate and followed the airport's access road to W.Va. 114 and Greenbrier Street.