Friday began as a regular day, maybe a little warmer than normal for northern Nevada for the end of January. But as the day progressed, normal turned to mayhem. Wind speeds as high as 135 mph whipped over the ridgetops, rain pelted down, wind gusts in the valleys topped more than 60 mph.
By mid-afternoon, strong winds toppled nine power poles near the intersection of S. Virginia and Mount Rose Highway sending nearly 3,000 customers without power. The highway was closed for a short time while crews removed wires from the roadway. With switching, Reno electric crews and the Electric System Control Center were able to restore all but about 115 customers within the 90 minutes. The remaining customers were restored around 1 a.m. and four Reno electric crews spent the night replacing poles and putting wire back up.
“Everyone did an awesome job, as they always do, rising to the occasion and working hard when it matters most,” said Lines Construction and Maintenance Manager Erik Johnson. “They endured some pretty nasty weather with the wind, rain and then snow, while trying to get the Summit Mall back in power as quickly as possible. Hats-off to their hard work and dedication.”
Johnson went on to thank the office staff that stayed late to help, and the lines supervisors who helped facilitate the crew work and handle some of the customer inquiries. “Everyone worked safely and it was a job well done,” he said.
The wind wasn’t confined to just one area, causing scattered power outages around the region. Around 6 p.m. more poles around Smith Valley and Wellington were discovered downed by the strong wind guests, leaving another 800 customers without power. Crews from Carson City and Fallon came to help the Yerington crew make repairs and most of those customers were restored around 11:30 p.m.
Shortly thereafter, the microwave link at Pinenut Peak, east of Carson City went down, sending telecommunications technicians using snow cats to reach the peak where they discovered a damaged microwave dish. This installation “talks” to company substations to the south of Gardnerville.
It wasn’t long before the Fernley and Fallon area also had their own set of outages to contend with overnight. Scattered outages could be found throughout the region Friday night into Saturday., keeping employees working around the clock.
Elko, Nevada, got its own version of winter weather when freezing rain fell Friday morning coating streets and leading to more than 100 motor vehicle accidents in the area, according to the Elko County Sheriff’s Department.