While we have all been hoping and praying for moisture in our area, the winter storm we got on December 13th probably wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. The snow was a welcome change from the drought we’ve had for most of the last year-and-a-half. But I’m sure we’ve all had our fill of wind – especially from this spring – and we definitely didn’t need more of it in blizzard proportions.
Thunderstorms and rainfall proceeding snow and gusty winds was not a great combination. The freezing rain brought slick roads and ice on the power lines that caught more wind that threw lines and twisted poles causing multiple outages. We made some progress Tuesday morning but by that afternoon our crews had nearly ground to a halt because of zero visibility and poor road conditions. In over 18 years of working at Midwest, I’ve never been as disappointed walking out the door as I was that night knowing there were so many without power, but we were simply unable to continue even trying to get more people back on.
Fortunately, the skies cleared Wednesday morning. It was still not easy to get around, but sunshine and increased visibility made it much easier to get the lines fixed and restore much needed power to our area. It was still miserable conditions for our crews to be out in, but you could tell the sunshine provided a lift and the progress we were making helps everyone feel like the losing battle of the day before was behind us and we were steadily moving forward. Our crews deserve a ton of credit for battling the weather and the roads and doing everything they could to restore power. We appreciate all the support we got from the community with encouraging words and even getting out in the storm themselves to help our guys get around.
One interesting aspect about this storm is we didn’t have a single broken pole. And we had very few broken crossarms on the poles. Most of the outages were caused by the lines being pulled off the poles by the ice and wind or the bolts that hold the crossarms on the poles breaking and the crossarms swinging into the line. Employees that have been around for 20-30 years say they’ve never seen so many bolts breaking like that. It seems that the wind caused the lines to move so much that they worked loose and eventually broke.
Another interesting note was most of the damage was within 10 miles east or west of Highway 61/Road 328 (south of Grant). That corridor may have gotten more of the rain the night before that led to more icing. We are grateful that the problem areas weren’t more widespread.
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