Duke Energy preparing to respond to winter storm system in Indiana

PLAINFIELD, Ind. – Duke Energy is monitoring and preparing for a winter storm system that may cause power outages across Indiana. A mix of heavy snow, sleet, freezing rain and high winds is predicted to move across the state.

“As severe winter weather approaches, we’re encouraging customers across our service territories to prepare for possible outages,” said Kevin Morgan, Duke Energy’s general manager for emergency preparedness. “Our team is making preparations to ensure we can restore electricity to impacted customers as soon as possible.”

Snow on its own typically has little to no impact on the electric system. However, heavy wet snow accumulation, freezing rain and high winds may bring down trees, limbs and power lines. These types of winter storms can also create hazardous driving conditions, which could delay and impede Duke Energy workers’ ability to assess storm damage and restore power.

Duke Energy has called in 300 additional response workers from out-of-state utilities – including lineworkers, damage assessors and vegetation crews – to supplement local crews and speed power restoration. Crews will work around-the-clock to restore power in impacted communities as quickly as possible.

Heavy ice on trees, branches, power lines

Ice buildup on trees and branches that causes them to fall on power lines is usually the main culprit behind power outages during a winter storm. Specifically, ice buildup of a quarter inch or more is often the threshold amount that causes trees and branches to topple.

The heavy weight of significant ice buildup directly on power lines themselves can sometimes cause the lines to fall or sag, as well. Heavy, wet snow of 6 inches or more also can cause trees and branches to fall on power lines.

Damage assessment 

After the storm, as conditions permit, crews will assess damage – a process that can take 24 hours or more, depending on damage severity and road conditions.

Damage assessment determines the types of crews, equipment and supplies needed to restore electricity to each power outage location. 

Simultaneously, while damage assessment is underway in some of the harder-hit areas, repair work will begin in other areas where feasible.

Reporting power outages

Customers can report power outages by texting “OUT” to 57801 or by calling 800.343.3525. They may also report an outage online at duke-energy.com/outages or through the Duke Energy mobile app. Duke Energy will provide estimated power restoration times to customers as soon as those times are determined.

The company also will provide regular updates to customers and communities through emails, text messages, outbound phone calls, social media and its website, which includes power outage maps.

Winter storm safety reminders

Customers can take steps to safely prepare for winter weather and outages that may impact them by doing the following:

  • Ensure an adequate supply of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, nonperishable foods, medicines, etc., as well as the availability of a portable, battery-operated radio, TV or weather radio.
  • Customers should make alternate shelter arrangements as needed if they will be significantly impacted by a loss of power – especially families who have special medical needs or elderly members.
  • Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized as well as trees or limbs in contact with lines. Please report downed power lines to Duke Energy or local emergency services.
  • If a power line falls across a car that you’re in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
  • Ice and snow can cause hazardous driving conditions resulting in traffic accidents and downed utility poles and power lines that, in turn, can cause isolated power outages. If you’re driving and encounter emergency responders or other roadside work crews, remember to MOVE OVER.
  • If you use a generator due to a power outage, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and proper operation. Operate your generator outside; never operate it inside a building or garage.
  • Don’t use grills or other outdoor appliances or equipment indoors for space heating or cooking, as these devices may emit carbon monoxide.
  • Be prepared for an emergency by purchasing an emergency preparedness kit from the Red Cross.

More tips on what to do before, during and after a storm can be found at duke-energy.com/safety-and-preparedness/storm-safety. A checklist serves as a helpful guide, but it’s critical before, during and after a storm to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency management officials in your area.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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