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30,000 lose power as winds whip

Gusts swirled around the storm heading to New England. They'll ease today - then, cold.

Punishing winds that gusted past 50 m.p.h., a backlash from a storm that left a touch of snow and ice on the region during the weekend, knocked out power to about 30,000 electricity customers in the region yesterday.

Many traffic problems also were reported as a result of downed power lines, trees and tree limbs.

At 3 p.m., the National Weather Service reported gusts up to 55 m.p.h. at Cape May; 51 in Wilmington; 49 at Willow Grove, and 48 at Philadelphia International Airport. Winds as high as 60 m.p.h. were reported in Breakwater Harbor near Lewes, Del.

Last night, Peco Energy spokesman Ben Armstrong said about 3,000 customers were still without power after winds had knocked out electricity to about 30,000 customers, most in the Pennsylvania suburbs.

The winds were generated by the circulation around the storm that affected the region on Sunday, leaving a trace of snow in Philadelphia and small accumulations elsewhere.

It intensified off the New England coast, and because winds blow counterclockwise around storm centers, the Philadelphia region was getting cold winds from the northwest.

The winds should die down today, but meteorologists say it is possible that Philadelphia will get its first officially measureable snow of the season tomorrow. It should not amount to much, however; the weather service describes the coming storm as a puny system that is "moisture-starved."

If the leaves blown from the trees onto the roadways become wet, driving could become hazardous.

It will be quite chilly the rest of the week, with highs mostly in the 30s and lows in the 20s. In short, it will feel decidedly like December - as well it should.