Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A hard rain’s gonna fall

gascansThe prospect of an ice storm looms on the western horizon and officials of the state’s electric utilities are preparing for the worst.

Those of us who lived through the ice apocalypse of 2009 are taking the warning seriously.

At Maria’s prompting, I made a fast run down to the Citgo station and filled a couple of 10 gallon gas cans to back up the already-full tank on our generator.

I’m waiting for a couple of phone calls for a story I’ve been assigned and as soon as they’re out of the way, I’m going out again to pick up a spare tank of propane in case we need the grill for cooking.

Mel Coleman, CEO of the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, put this message out to the media this morning:

Plans are well under way by North Arkansas Electric Cooperative for what appears to be a major ice event from tonight into tomorrow. Our management team has been on full alert since yesterday morning, and planning is under way at this moment to respond to whatever happens over the next two days.

Should the worst case scenario (immediate worst case by the NWS) play out, we will have extended outages that will exceed a few days. It appears we are not talking about the same severity of the 2009 storm, but I will say some of the weather models are close to that.  Predictions now are for .25 to .75 inches of ice over our entire service territory. That is not good news. But keep in mind, weather can and will change. Let's hope for the best as we plan for the worst.

Please stay abreast of the weather conditions.  We will have updates through the media, email, Facebook and Twitter. I would strongly encourage you and others to "like" North Arkansas Electric Cooperative on Facebook, and follow my personal Twitter account, @melfly1 (MelColeman).

Thanks for your assistance during these times of bad weather.  We will stay in touch.

And this from Entergy in Little Rock:

Little Rock, Ark.  – Entergy Arkansas is monitoring the progress of two rounds of winter weather. While the weather conditions remain dynamic, Entergy Arkansas teams are fully engaged in preparing for the possibility of a significant ice storm in the north and central regions of the state, and thunderstorms in the south, could affect all or parts of Entergy’s service territory Wednesday evening into Thursday.
Nearly 1,000 additional restoration workers, including line, vegetation and scout personnel, have been secured to join the expected power restoration effort and will be in the state by Wednesday evening. Entergy storm teams are currently working  to secure additional linemen and vegetation workers.
“We understand what an inconvenience it is to be without electricity, and we will be doing everything in our power to get it back on,” said Brady Aldy, transmission and distribution operations director for Entergy Arkansas, Inc. “We will have more crews in the field, and will provide frequent status reports to make sure customers are well informed.”
In addition to securing additional resources, Entergy Arkansas crews arrived early Wednesday morning to service centers across the state packed and ready to relocate by Wednesday evening, if necessary. Preparing for a storm is an essential duty of all Entergy Arkansas employees. Some serve on logistics teams to prepare for out-of-state crews. Others have been double-checking stocks of materials and reviewing circuit maps.
All crews are prepared to work long hours after the storm passes to restore service to customers as quickly and as safely as possible.
In the hours remaining before conditions deteriorate, Entergy urges customers to prepare for the possibility of extended power outages by gathering flashlights with fresh batteries, a supply of water for several days, a first aid kit, canned food and a non-electric can opener. Having necessary medications in hand and a plan for pets are also recommended measures.
Entergy reminds customers, who have not already done so, to download the Entergy app for their smartphones. Storm-preparedness tips and online services are available to customers through “Entergy Storm Center.” Customers can also sign up to send and receive text information about power outages through their cellphones. To use the service, register a cellphone number by texting the message REG to 368374. The system will respond and ask for an Entergy account number and ZIP code.
“Most importantly, we encourage our customers to include safety in their preparations. Whether it’s spotting a downed wire or other potential hazard after the storm has cleared, be sure to make safety a key ingredient in your storm planning,” said Oscar Washington, director of customer service for Entergy Arkansas, Inc. “Call 1-800-9OUTAGE if you see a safety hazard, or fill out the convenient Safety Hazard tab on our Facebook page.”

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