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State

Gusts up to 50 mph knock out power to 1,100 homes

(MCT) — DECATUR — Winds gusting to more than 50 mph ahead of a snap cold front gave Central Illinois its first taste of winter Sunday with scattered power outages and downed trees.

Ameren Illinois said 1,100 customers were hit with a power failure in the Argenta-Oreana area beginning at 11:40 a.m. when a main transmission line was lost. And a falling tree limb on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Decatur sparked an outage that affected more than 700 customers, including the Brettwood Village shopping center.

Utility repair crews fanned out quickly to tackle the problems, and all power was restored by the afternoon, although some families caught up in the Argenta-Oreana outage had to wait until 4 p.m. before the lights came on.

Ameren Illinois spokeswoman, Stacey Young, said the Argenta-Oreana line that failed stayed dead and crews had to improvise. “They left that line out of service and actually did some switching in order to get customers back on,” she said Sunday evening.

She said the cause of the failure wasn’t known, although the gusty weather was a chief suspect. “We will take a better look at the line (Monday) to see if we can troubleshoot the problem,” Young added. “We’re not sure what caused that service to go out other than weather-related issues. We’ve been very busy Sunday, that’s for sure.”

Trees and lines were also reported down in several other Decatur locations and in Long Creek during the day, but with no major outages or major damage, according to police and firefighters.

The National Weather Service said the highest wind gust in Decatur was clocked at 50 mph at Decatur Airport at 2 p.m. and at 55 mph at Bloomington Airport. The cold front sent temperatures plunging to 31 degrees and a band of rain threatened to end in scattered snow flurries early this morning, but with no accumulation.

Meteorologist Chuck Schaffer said temperatures would remain well below the seasonal norm today, sinking to the 20s tonight. The mercury will slowly climb back as the week progresses and be up in the low 50s toward Thursday and Friday.

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