Power companies gearing up for possible outages as rain from Ida nears Pittsburgh area

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — With heavy rains moving into the area associated with Tropical Depression Ida, local power companies are gearing up to respond to outages, while rescue groups prepare for possible flooding.

Heavy rain associated with Ida will move into our region late Tuesday night and continue on and off into Wednesday night. Areas south and east of Pittsburgh should see the heaviest rain, with some areas picking up nearly 6 inches of rain in 24 hours.

Todd Meyers with West Penn Power said they are hoping that the wind from the storm will die down before making it to the area.

“It’s worse when there’s a lot of rain and heavy winds, so we aren’t looking at too much wind, but we won’t know until it’s here, and we are prepared to handle with whatever comes,” Meyers said.

They have crews working 16-hour shifts, plus other crews that headed south to help power companies there. Their worry is how much rain we could get.

“You can have water that overtops streams and undercuts poles, or floodwater can take poles down. You may have trees that are standing in a lot of floodwater from other storms, and they can sometimes fall,” he said.

Right now, Allegheny County and the National Weather Service are preparing for the most rain to fall in the South Hills -- particularly South Park and Elizabeth.

There is also concern about rainfall totals in the eastern suburbs, and concerns about how high the rivers will crest on Thursday.

River flooding is expected, but how much depends on how much rain falls here and to the south because the Monongahela River flows north.

As for power, Meyers thinks Ida may not cause as much damage as other storms this summer.

“We have had some outages and some storms that have had us making repairs over several days. I would say without the wind, this hopefully will not be as significant as some of the outages we have seen with these heavy thunderstorms,” he said.

Even though power companies have crews helping in the south, they say they still have more than enough crews up here to help if the power does go out.