“Early February usually calls for flowers, chocolates, and that warm and fuzzy feeling just in time for Valentine’s Day,” Northwestern Electric Cooperative (NWEC) Member Services and Communications Coordinator Lyndsey Harvey shared. “I think I can speak for most when I say, where in the heck is that warm fuzzy feeling?”
Harsh temperatures have settled over much of NWEC’s service territory, according to Harvey.
“The accumulation of ice on power lines and surrounding trees has resulted in a constant battle between our linemen and the weather,” Harvey said. “In some areas, nearly 6 inches of ice rests on miles of line.”
To put things into perspective, Harvey explained that one-half inch of ice can add as much as 500 pounds to a power line.
“Not only can this added ice bring down the power line, but it also increases the surface area of the line,” Harvey said. “This added surface area makes it easier for wind gusts to catch, which leads to a plethora of additional problems.”
According to Harvey, NWEC crews have been preparing for potential outages as the second wave of winter weather threatens the area.
“We are bringing in contractor crews to help in the heaviest hit areas, so when the time comes we can spread our crews across the service territory,” NWEC Operations and Engineering Director Jaret Dowler said. “We also have plenty of material for repairs ready, so now we just wait to see what weather comes our way in the next few days.”
OG&E Communications Specialist David Kimmel is not expecting a significant impact on their system.
“That being said, we have begun taking steps to ensure we have personnel in place to respond quickly to all outage events,” Kimmel said. “We will continue to monitor the weather and are prepared to act accordingly to any changes to this situation.”
According to Harvey, the trickiest part to any winter outage event is perhaps the potential for outages to kick back up again when the weather finally starts to get warmer.
“When the ice begins to melt, whether it be on a line or a tree, the sudden absence of weight causes the line, or branch, to snap upwards,” Harvey said. “This can cause an array of problems, and at times, nearly just as many outages as the ice did in the first place.”
It always pays to be prepared for storms, according to Kimmel.
“Storms can surprise us with their severity,” Kimmel said. “You don’t want to be caught without essential supplies, or be rushed to prepare at the last minute.”
One of the best things residents can do now is prepare, according to Harvey.
“No one wants to be without power, but should an outage happen it is crucial to have a plan,” Harvey said.
OG&E suggest keeping the following items on hand all the time for emergency situations to make things easier until they can get power back…
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