Strong winds whip into Rappahannock, bringing county to a standstill

This large highway sign on U.S. 211 between Sperryville and Shenandoah National Park couldn’t withstand the powerful wind gusts that blew through the canyon. John McCaslin

More coverage: Volunteers battle windswept wildfires

Early Sunday morning update

Power | More homes and businesses are reported without power now than when the winds swept through on Friday, according to the latest Rappahannock Electric Cooperative outage summary. 3,293 customers are affected out of 4,990 active meters in the county. Most of the Town of Washington now has power after being out for much of Friday and into Saturday.

Roads | VDOT does not list any road closures in Rappahannock County.

Ferocious winds approaching hurricane force blew into Rappahannock County early Friday morning, toppling hundreds of trees, blocking major roadways, downing power lines, and closing schools.

“If you got here earlier you wouldn’t have gotten past here,” said a resident who lives next door to B&B Service Center on U.S. 211 in Sperryville, where a large uprooted tree had just been pushed to the side of the highway. A short distance away a thick pine tree rested on the roof of an old home, causing its chimney to crumble.

Another tree brought down electrical wires near the Sperryville Volunteer Fire Department, where a wooden telephone pole was snapped in half. Further up the canyon, where winds really whipped overnight and into the day Friday, a large green highway sign was pointed in the wrong direction.

Owner Craig Batchelor removes a wind-damaged storm door from the main entrance of the Sperryville Corner Store early Friday morning. John McCaslin
A huge root ball (and future firewood) is all that’s left of this large tree near B&B Service Center in Sperryville. John McCaslin | Rappahannock News

VDOT crews, assisted by local fire and rescue agencies, worked throughout the pre-dawn hours to clear huge trees and branches from the roadways. In many cases they used snow plows to push the trees off the highways.

Linemen from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, dealing with 500-plus power outages alone in Sperryville, had other pressing problems: the co-op’s two portable toilets at the Sperryville sub-station on Water Street were both blown onto their sides.

REC reported several thousand of power outages from Chester Gap in the north to Boston in the South, including the county seat of Washington. Besides the high winds, snow squalls greeted Rappahannock residents when they awakened — granted they even slept through the storm — Friday morning.

At 9:30 a.m., a spokeswoman for REC said most of Rappahannock County remained without power, or a total of 3,487 homes and businesses. She said the outages were worse earlier in the morning.

2:45 p.m. update: 2450 of 4990 active meters in the county remain affected by the outages. Nearly all of the Town of Washington’s 158 meters are listed as affected. Follow REC’s outage summary for updates.

A dispatcher at the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the entire county courthouse complex on Gay Street was also without power at that time. Winds brought down trees in numerous places around the county seat of Washington.

In Woodville, a white fence was blown over on Sperryville Pike, while a large downed tree blocked the main entrance to Eldon Farms.

In Warrenton, Fauquier Hospital was operating on back-up power, according to a news release Friday morning. All patient care, safety and communication systems are operational, but all elective surgeries have been cancelled for today (Friday, March 2). Scheduled medical procedures and medical imaging tests (non-emergency) have also been cancelled. Patients have been notified.

The Emergency Department is operating normally, as is the Infusion Center, but most other offices are closed, including:  The Wellness Center; The Wound Healing Center; The Sleep Center; Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (in Warrenton and in Lake Manassas); Medical Imaging office at the Warrenton Professional Center on Blackwell Road; Fauquier Health OB/GYN; Fauquier Health Hematology/Oncology; Fauquier Health Neurology; and Fauquier Health Urology.

In Culpeper, more than 1,000 were without power according to Dominion Power and areas of Eggbornsville, Rixeyville and Amissville were without power according to REC. About 800 just south of the town of Culpeper were without power, according to REC. A tractor trailer accident along U.S. 29 was reported in the morning, as the truck was blown off the road due to the high winds. Several homeowners in the Meadow’s subdivision reported trees down on fences and mailboxes were blown from their posts in the Lakeview subdivision.

11:55 a.m. update: Currently, an estimated 600 Town of Culpeper residents living in the Highpoint and Magnolia Green subdivisions along with Leaflin Court are experiencing a power outage due to a Dominion Energy power line taken down by a large tree. Dominion Energy crews are on site and working. The anticipated length of the outage is unknown at this time. Residents and Businesses located along the Route 15 corridor are also currently without power, as Dominion Energy crews continue to work.

— Jeff Say contributed to this report

A toppled lamp post in front of the Rappahannock County Courthouse on Friday morning. Dennis Brack | Rappahannock News
Two portable toilets at Rappahannock Electric Co-op’s Sperryville substation were rendered useless by the storm. John McCaslin
One of dozens of trees that were brought down by high winds in Rappahannock County. John McCaslin | Rappahannock News
Wind snapped a power pole next to the old Rappahannock County Jail in the Town of Washington. Dennis Brack | Rappahannock News
A power pole on U.S. 211 was literally snapped in half by the strong winds, bringing down electric lines with it. John McCaslin
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John McCaslin is the editor of the Rappahannock News. Email him at


  1. Thank you for the updates. Big thanks to all of the emergency services workers! Their quick response to the brush fires in the county have been outstanding!
    Love all of the members of our community coming together to help each other.

    • Thanks for information,,,i,ve been without power since this morning,,and living in the country i know it takes time,,when a bad storm hits,,,Thanks REC. crews for risking your lives

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