Stormy two days means busy workload for crews responding to power outages

Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-15 19:09:17-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Windstorms on Tuesday and heavy rain and snow Wednesday made for widespread power outages in northern Utah, keeping crews for Rocky Mountain Power busy overnight and into Wednesday.

It proved to be a challenging 12 hours or so for RMP crews, who were literally scrambling all over the state to various spots for folks who were without power. At one point there were more than 10,000 customers without power, but crews got a handle on things by mid-morning Wednesday.

Tax Day proved taxing for the crews, and many of them were accruing overtime as they repaired downed and damaged power lines and transformers.

“We have the winds, we have the moisture, now we have the snow,” said Paul Murhpy, a Rocky Mountain Power spokesman. “When that happens it causes the lines to arc. The arc causes fires, poles burn down and the power goes out. So we’ve had crews out all night. We’ve had to call in extra crews to make sure the power gets restored as quickly as possible."

And there were some nerve-wracking moments as well, as one pole was connected to power lines that were hanging over a train car, which fire officials said contained liquid nitrogen

Because of the concern over live wires falling on the train car and causing a hazardous material situation, crews were on stand-by until Rocky Mountain Power arrived and cut the power to those lines.

Aside from a few situations like that, the focus was repairing the lines.

“They try to take power from different areas and try to get people restored as quickly as possible,” Murphy said. “They go to the areas that are affected most first, and then they work out to the outlying areas.”

Murphy said anyone who sees a downed power line should stay clear of it and contact 911. Anyone who is suffering a power outage can call a toll free number, 877-508-5088, to report the outage.

As of Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m., there were about 2,495 customers without power in the Salt Lake Metro Area; 1,286 customers without power in Kearns, Taylorsville and West Valley City; and about 988 customers without power in Park City and Summit County.