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Gusty storms break heat grip: PATCO disrupted by downed power line, thousands without power

More than 65,000 customers in Southeast Pennsylvania and South Jersey were without power as of 6 a.m.

Two parked cars damaged by fallen tree on High Street near 4th Avenue in Haddon Heights. Kevin Riordan / Staff
Two parked cars damaged by fallen tree on High Street near 4th Avenue in Haddon Heights. Kevin Riordan / StaffRead moreKevin Riordan / Staff

A gusty line of thunderstorms late Monday afternoon finally ended the punishing heat wave that had gripped the region, but not without leaving tens of thousands without power and disrupting PATCO service.

» UPDATE: Philly after the storms: Cleanup, power outages, and PATCO woes

One heat-related death over the weekend was reported in Philadelphia.

Just before 6 a.m., Peco reported that more than 24,000 customers were still without power, including more than 15,000 in Bucks County and almost 8,000 in Delaware County.

Jefferson Bucks Hospital in Langhorne lost main power and was running on a backup source, a spokesperson said Monday night.

In New Jersey, Public Service Electric & Gas reported more than 41,000 customers were without power in South Jersey.

Just after 6 p.m., PATCO reported that service on the High-Speed Line was temporarily suspended. By 6:30, PATCO said partial service had been restored between 15th/16th Streets in Center City and Woodcrest.

The partial service would continue through the Tuesday morning commute with no trains running to Ashland or Lindenwold Stations, PATCO said late Monday night.

SEPTA also reported some disruptions and delays that were weather-related.

The heat victim was a man in his 70s who died in West Philadelphia on Saturday, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office said Monday, providing no other details. The single death — the city’s first heat-related death of 2019 — stands in sharp contrast to the numbers that were reported in the 1990s before the city became a leader in dealing with the problem. No heat-related deaths were immediately reported in the suburbs.

The high on Saturday reached 97 degrees, with a maximum heat index of 109, according to the National Weather Service. High temperatures surpassed 90 degrees every day for the last week except Thursday, topping out with Sunday’s 98. The low temperature hasn’t dropped below 70 degrees at Philadelphia International Airport since July 9.

While Monday remained muggy, the line of storms made its way from the west in advance of a front that immediately brought cooler temperatures and damaging winds (wind gusts of 70 mph or stronger were reported) that knocked down trees, branches, and utility poles.

Earlier, the National Weather Service had said tornadoes also were possible. Severe thunderstorm warnings and flash flood watches were issued for the region, with 3 to 4 inches of rain possible in some areas through the evening and overnight.

Meanwhile, authorities in Bethlehem, Pa., on Monday said that a 6-year-old boy reported to have been struck by lightning Sunday night showed no signs of lightning-related injuries, and may have just fallen off his bike, according to the Associated Press.

The high for Tuesday was expected to be in the high 70s, with heat indexes in the same range, a far cry from the indexes that ranged from the upper 90s to nearly 110 degrees in the last week.

While rain was forecast for Tuesday, no precipitation was expected the rest of the week, with daytime highs inching up day by day from the mid-80s to the upper 80s.

» READ MORE: What’s a heat index? From warnings to watches, here are the weather terms you need to know

» READ MORE: Heat sets record for electricity use