High winds main culprit in power outages at homes, businesses, airport

Dec 20, 2012

There have been numerous power outages in Mid-Missouri today as the area is experiencing a winter storm with high winds.

Chris Rohlfing with Boone County Electric Cooperative says the main cause of the outages so far is high winds –which cause the electric lines to slap up against each other. He says that’s the same as the line touching the ground – sending a rush of current that can trip a breaker at a substation and cause an outage.

Rohlfing says that was the cause of an outage at Columbia Regional Airport this morning. Crews on site laid new lines and were able to get power restored around 11:00am, but Rohlfing says shortly after that the high winds triggered another outage when lines slapped together. He says a crew will be nearby throughout the day to re-set the breakers when necessary.

Boone County Electric customers can use this live-updated map to see the status of their outage: http://stormcenter.booneelectric.coop/default.html

Ameren Missouri also has live-updated outage information on its site: http://www.ameren.com/sites/aue/OutageCenter/Pages/OutageMap.aspx

In Columbia, Connie Kacprowicz with Columbia Water and Light says high winds are causing the same problems in numerous areas of the city.

“Many of these have been small outages, but we did have a larger outage in the Providence, Business Loop area that affected about 425-450 customers, and that was due to the lines hitting each other. What they were able to do was isolate those lines and put some spacers to hold them apart. So those customers were out from about 9:30am-10:30am, for about an hour,” Kacprowicz said.

She says crews were still out Wednesday morning working on other outages. She says some of them have been caused by trees touching lines, and says it’s a reminder of the importance of the department’s tree trimming program.

“As unpopular as it is to trim trees near power lines, it really helps as far as outages whenever you see these high winds or ice storms,” Kacprowicz said.

Rohlfing also asks that people keep an eye out for downed trees, which he says may be a problem due to this year’s drought. He says if you do see a tree or line down, contact the city or a power company as soon as possible. He warns not to go near it; electrocution can happen from yards away.