Winter weather causes large-scale power outages in Utah

Posted at 10:07 PM, Dec 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-07 00:07:36-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- We’ve seen record low temperatures in parts of Utah, and it’s taking a toll. Thousands of residents throughout the state went hours without power or heat on Friday.

The outage impacted residents from Vernal to Orem, and even some residents in Highland, American Fork, and Alpine.

Resident Steven Baker said it started Just after two o’clock Friday morning.

“The kids came in and said their fan had turned off, and we realized the house was pretty cold,” Baker said.

His house in American Fork was one of thousands with a power outage, and it didn’t take long for the house to feel like an igloo.

“We came downstairs,” Baker said. “It was getting cold enough that we turned on the gas fireplace and slept down on the couch and tried to keep warm down here.”

About 3,433 residents in Highland, Alpine, and American Fork had no power for heat for most of the morning, and the temperature outside at the time was zero degrees. In Orem, 1,164 residents were impacted for about an hour with the temperature at nine degrees. In Vernal, 2,861 customers faced an outage and the temperature there at the time was also zero degrees.

Jennifer Moosmann with Vernal Dialysis Center said, for some dialysis patients in Vernal, the outage halted their treatments.

“It's a bum deal because they do not get all their blood back and they miss part of a treatment and it is a weekend, so they might, by Monday, have put on extra fluid,” she said. “It's just uncomfortable for them.”

Rocky Mountain Power Spokesperson Margaret Oler said weather was a factor in these outages.

“We know that there were connections that because of the constricting of the lines due to the extreme cold weather, it did cause some damage,” she said.

Oler said the best thing you can do to prepare for an outage, possibly for an extended period of time, is to have an emergency bag with extra clothes and blankets, canned food, flashlights, extra batteries, and other emergency essentials.

Frigid weather like we’ve seen can motivate some people to do whatever it takes to warm up, but Rocky Mountain Power encourages everyone to follow the following in-home safety tips during an outage:

  • Never use kerosene, propane, or charcoal inside the house.
  • Leave faucets dripping to prevent water from freezing inside and cracking pipes.
  • Put blankets and towels around windows and doors to help keep heat in.
  • People on life support devices need a backup plan of action.

You can find all of these tips and more here