Why Do Winter Power Outages Happen?
- Nov 22, 2017
Ice, ice, baby. That’s just one of the obstacles the get in the way of power companies delivering electricity to their customers during the winter months. There are a lot of reasons why winter power outages happen, and one of the main reasons is weather. Let’s take a look through the list why.
The first winter weather condition that can rob homes and businesses of power is cold temperatures. As most utility workers know, electric systems consist of thousands of components. These components work best when they operate at the temperature they’re designed for. When it gets extremely cold, most systems can handle it. However, if there is added stress on the system, that’s when problems happen.
The second reason winter power outages happen may surprise you. That’s because it really has nothing to do with the weather. Animals are a huge problem for utility companies. Throughout the year, animals like squirrels and birds cause the most damage by chewing on and flying into powerlines.
In the winter, animals use power lines and equipment a little bit differently. On particularly chilly night, a transformer is a warm shelter to a squirrel or other small animal. That is, until the animal’s presence causes the equipment to malfunction.
There isn’t much that utility companies can do to prevent these types of outages besides routinely inspecting equipment or installing anti-pest measures.
Ice On Power Lines
Ice on power lines, or snow for that matter, can be another problem that causes power outages. Winter weather can weigh heavy on normally sturdy lines. At some point, the weight becomes too much for the lines to bear and they break. This can also happen when ice or snow build up on nearby tree branches.
A falling tree brand on a power line is enough to knock the power line down and knock power out to your customers for an extended time. Treacherous winter weather conditions could increase this time by blocking crews from the repair site. Winter precipitation is a big issue.
The third and last thing that can knock your power line down is the wind. While most people think of hurricanes and tornadoes when it comes to high speed winds, winter blizzards also bring with them fast-moving gusts of air.
You can read more about power outage preparedness for homes or businesses here. If you’re a utility worker or emergency manager and want to learn more about what weather visualization software can do for you, sign up for a free trial.