The day after the region got a delightful preview of May, it is getting a powerful taste of March.
Wind gusts, up to 64 m.p.h., have persisted throughout the day, knocking out power to about 45,000 electric customers, contributing to at least two traffic accidents, and causing sporadic delays at Philadelphia International Airport.
The National Weather Service's high-wind warning remains in effect until 7 p.m., when the winds are forecast to die down. "It doesn't mean it's going to go calm," said Bob Wanton, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly.
In the meantime, the New Jersey Turnpike has a ban on motorcycles and car-pulled trailers, and it remains a terrible day for hairdos.
At the shore, where the gales stirred the sands into a ghostly mist and trash cans blew across empty streets, winds gusted to 54 m.p.h. The wind hit 60 m.p.h. in Wilmington, and a 54-m.p.h. gust was measured at Philadelphia International Airport just after noon. The strongest gust, 64 m.p.h., was reported unofficially in Northeast Philadelphia just before daybreak.
Winds were blamed for blowing a northbound tractor-trailer off the road on the Northeast Extension just beyond the turnpike tolls, turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo said. The trailer was empty, he said. A second tractor-trailer was blown off the westbound turnpike near the Berks County-Morgantown border, he said. No injuries were reported, however.
In addition, two turnpike rest stops lost power because of winds that gusted to 62 m.p.h., he said.
PECO said that about 25,000 customers lost power because of the winds, with the outages concentrated in Bucks County. An additional 20,000 outages were reported in South Jersey.
The wind evidently wasn't causing major travel problems. The airport was reporting "periodic" delays, a spokeswoman said, and travelers were advised to check the airport Web site – www.phl.org - or call 800-745-4283.
The winds routed the record warmth that settled over the region yesterday when the official temperature reached 68, breaking one of the longest-standing daily records on the books – 66 set way back in 1887. Overnight, however, a cold front pushed through the region, and the winds quickly followed.
The wind was a nuisance, but it appeared to spare the region major trauma.
Yesterday, David Smith of Margate inspected "The Point" in neighboring Longport, where a hurricane in the early 1900's washed away more than a dozen blocks.
"I always come down here to see what it looks like, and I know whether I should go home and sandbag the house or not," Smith said. "And today is definitely not a day I'll need to sandbag. I've seen it much, much worse here."
Inquirer staff writers Allison Steele and Jacqueline Urgo contributed to this article.