Nebraska has felt a touch of winter weather this fall and more is expected during Thanksgiving week – and the official start of winter is not until mid-December. With winter months still ahead, there is more risk of freezing temperatures, high winds and snowfall ahead.
And with those conditions brings the possibility of power outages – including having no power for homes and businesses for a period of time and downed power lines. Being aware of the dangers of downed power lines remains important according to Nebraska Public Power District.
High winds, heavy snow and ice build-up can cause power lines to break or falter. “The snow looks light coming down and accumulates and gets heavier. It brings the branches down and they droop down on the lines,” said NPPD Distribution Supervisor Ray Boston. “That’s when a line can go down and cause an outage.” Boston noted that NPPD does annual patrols of lines in retail communities and determines what trees need to be trimmed back to avoid having an outage and hopefully eliminate any outages during the winter months.
But it is also important, according to Boston, that anytime someone sees a power line down on the ground they should stay clear of the area and notify their local public power provider immediately, who have trained personnel and will be able to remove the lines safely.
Winter storms can bring a few different threats to power lines including galloping, downed, and floating wires. Galloping wire, seen mainly around transmission lines, occur when high winds force two adjacent power lines to hit each other, which may cause an outage. Floating wires consist of power lines that have been broken and are blowing in the wind or are not long enough to contact the ground.
If a powerline falls on a roadway, motorists should not try to drive over the line or move it from the roadway. This could result in serious injury. If a power line were to fall on top of a driver’s vehicle, the occupants should remain inside, call for help, and wait for a trained professional lineman to remove the downed line.
NPPD encourages the public to be aware in storm conditions this winter and review numerous safety tips on its website at https://www.nppd.com/outages-safety/electrical-safety#storm. NPPD customers can call 1-877-ASK- NPPD or go to NPPD.com to report an outage or damaged power line.