String of Severe Storms Brings Down Wires, Stops Trains

A string of severe storms moved into the Philadelphia area as expected midday Wednesday, leaving trains stuck, power out and trees down.

The storms packed downpours, lightning and strong winds up to 60 mph in some places. Hail hit in some areas, including parts of Montgomery and Bucks counties.

A time-lapse from the NBC10 Aquacam shows Wednesday’s severe storms rolling through downtown Philadelphia.

About 1:30 p.m., SEPTA officials said the system's Chestnut Hill West and Trenton Regional Rail Lines were suspended until further notice due to downed wires. Officials said Trenton service was expected to resume about 3:30 p.m. but that some inbound trains would likely be canceled.

Chestnut Hill West service may not return until 4 p.m., SEPTA officials said, due to the extent of the damage affecting that line.

The same downed wires, which are located near the North Philadelphia station, halted three Amtrak trains earlier in the day at the height of the storms.

"Expect overcrowded conditions and delays until further notice," SEPTA officials said in a statement. They said Regional Rail tickets will be accepted on Market-Frankford trains and connecting bus routes, which can serve as alternates for passengers until Regional Rail is restored.

In Warrington, a viewer reported lots of lightning and heavy rain. Viewers in Middletown, Delaware reported downed trees and power lines, causing outages in the area. In Northeast Philly's Somerton neighborhood, there were reports of hail falling. Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said most of the hail that fell with the storm was about pea-sized, but that some areas may have seen slightly bigger hail.

Parveen said once the storms moved out of the area in the afternoon, she couldn't rule out a chance of a spotty shower or two in some places, but that she expected rush hour to be dry.

The storms knocked down power lines along SEPTA's Chestnut Hill West and Trenton Regional Rail tracks, halting service.

The downed power lines also stopped at least three Amtrak trains. The trains were back running by about 1:15 p.m., but were still moving slowly and with major delays. Wilmington, Delaware-bound Passenger Ken Boulden told NBC10 that his train headed south from New York stopped in North Philadelphia.

"All of a sudden everything went dark," said Boulden.

A conductor came around and said that train appeared to have been struck by lightning, but that there was no fire, said Boulden. Boulden and other passengers then waited on the train as the conductor said a diesel engine could be brought in to rescue them.

Two other Amtrak trains also were impacted by the downed wire not lightning, said Amtrak spokesman Craig Schultz.

Amtrak held all other Northeast Corridor trains at Philadelphia and New York Penn Station until the power problem is resolved, said Schultz.

The storms knocked out power to more than 62,000 PECO customers -- mostly in Chester and Delaware counties -- and about 8,000 Atlantic City Electric customers -- mostly in Camden County. PSE&G reported about 19,500 customers without power.

By 3:30 p.m., PECO's outage numbers decreased, with roughly 34,000 customers still affected. AC Electric and PSE&G's numbers remained about the same.

Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey reported that it lost power in the storms, but that all its outdoor rides had already been shut down at the time. One indoor ride was unloaded. Park officials said everyone there is safe.

The storms also delayed the start of the Phillies planned 1:05 game against the Chicago Cubs to about 1:20 p.m., when players took the field. The tarp could be seen blowing off the field as the brunt of the storms hit.

The National Weather Service suggested people move to interior rooms on the lowest floor of their homes as the storms hit.

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