Crews chip away at last remaining power outages after storm

PHOTOGRAPHER:

A tree snapped by the weight of the snow lies partially in Guy Park Avenue in Amsterdam as workers from Lou’s Electric makes a house call on Tuesday.

ALBANY — Forty-eight hours after the snowflakes stopped falling, the lights were back on just about everywhere.

At midday Thursday, National Grid said it was down to 3,300 homes and businesses without electricity from a peak of 234,500 knocked out by Tuesday’s storm. It expected to reach that last 1.5% by late Thursday evening or early Friday morning.

As with any other widespread storm that gives warning of its approach, the electric and gas utility took measures to prepare for it, spokesman Patrick Stella said.

Employees were assembled to respond, he said. In upstate New York, personnel were moved from the utility’s western district to the central and eastern districts, which were much harder hit. Others were moved west from other states.

“Overall across that state we had over 3,000 employees and contractors working on storm restoration,” he said. “We did bring some forestry crews from New England.”

The problem wasn’t just the amount of snow and wind — up to 18 inches, up to 50 miles per hour — it was the quality of the snow.

“Snow this time of year is heavy and wet,” Stella said.

In some areas, that heavy snow fell on trees with blossoms or budding leaves that held more snow than just bare branches would have. This extra weight caused more trees to topple and some branches to break off, and some of the falling timber took power lines or poles down.

Another challenge: Trees fell down across roads or trails, making them impassable to line crews in their heavy trucks.

“That adds to the restoration times,” Stella said.

National Grid has extensive storm response experience but every storm is a potential new challenge and new learning experience. In this case, the utility had greater difficulty than expected with the depth of snow on the road and the number of trees down across the road.

“I’m sure we will incorporate some of the things that happened in this storm into the training,” Stella said.

By late afternoon, National Grid’s online outage map showed the bulk of remaining power outages were in the Adirondacks.

The utility said cleanup would continue Friday, after all power was restored.

By John Cropley

Leave a Reply