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Utility Crews Racing to Restore Power Outages Across the U.S.

Feb. 3, 2022
As thousands of utility crews address power outages from last week’s storm in the Northeast, more pressure was applied this week as Winter Storm Landon socked much of the central U.S., from Texas to the Midwest to the Ohio Valley.

As thousands of utility crews address power outages from last week’s storm in the Northeast, more pressure was applied this week as Winter Storm Landon socked much of the central U.S., from Texas to the Midwest to the Ohio Valley.

As noon approached Thursday, power outages topped more than 150,000 across states. More than 84,000 outages were reported in Tennessee and more than 74,000 in Texas, especially in areas of Texas that received the most freezing rain.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric reported about 6,000 people affected by one large single outage, most of it addressed by Thursday morning.

Entergy Mississippi had more than 6,000 customers without power, as winter weather that was expected to stay north drifted further south.

The Memphis area in western Tennessee was especially hard hit. The Memphis area in western Tennessee was especially hard hit. More than 103,000 Memphis, Light, Gas and Water customers were without power just after noon Thursday.

Crews could be seen throughout Midtown Memphis and the Medical District removing fallen trees that had brought down power lines, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. Officials cautioned Thursday afternoon that the outages could grow throughout Thursday and into Friday. 

"It is not going to be restored quickly," Gale Jones Carson, an MLGW spokeswoman, said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. She said she expected further downed trees to hit power lines and MLGW equipment and trigger further outages, the newspaper said.

Robert Knecht, Memphis' public works director, said it would take two days for the city to clear the streets. 

Entergy Arkansas posted a video explaining that a triple whammy of rain, freezing temps and winds in some areas is creating what's known in the power industry as "galloping" – when rain, freezing to the power line, coupled with steady wind, creates an air foil - basically the same shape as an airplane wing.

Wind blows across and creates lift and if lines slap together, it can cause an outage.

Duke Energy officials said there are about 1,000 crews currently on standby in their southern Indiana coverage area. Some crews are even traveling from out of state to help out in Indiana and across the river in Kentucky, where LG&E has access to 600 line technicians.

In Boyle County, Ky., Inter-County Energy Cooperative had a room set up to track outages, WKYT reported. It’s technology they did not have in 2009 when the last major ice storm happened, allowing them to track outages and dispatch crews quickly without relying on reports from customers.

Further east, National Grid had nearly 4,000 field personnel responding to power outages in Massachusetts and Rhode Island caused by downed limbs, trees, and poles brought on by last weekend’s nor’easter.

National Grid secured external crews from Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Brunswick and Ontario. All response crews were in place by Friday night. 

For National Grid customers, the hardest hit area was Nantucket, where persistent winds of 50 mph and gusts topping 70 mph slowed restoration efforts. 

Other areas impacted by the storm primarily were on the North and South Shores of Massachusetts. Outages were minimal in Western and Central Massachusetts as well as Rhode Island. 

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