Emergency management offices look at possible winter storm - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Emergency management offices look at possible winter storm

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

ASH FLAT/SALEM, AR (KAIT) – Emergency management officers in Fulton and Sharp Counties, along with the surrounding areas, have been keeping their eyes on an approaching weather system expected to dump several inches of snow in northwest Arkansas and has already caused a blizzard warning in parts of Missouri. According to the North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, up to half an inch of ice could accumulate on power lines in Fulton County, with approximately a quarter of an inch on lines in Sharp County.

"We expect some outages, but we're still in a little bit of a recovery process from the previous ice storm," said James Woody, Operations Manager.

Woody said utility crews have been working regular shifts recently; however, Tuesday crews will begin filling up large trucks with gas and checking equipment in case repairs need to be made to power lines.

"We got some of a good portion of our system had over 3,000 poles replaced in the last ice storm, so there is some benefit to that there," said Woody, who noted that NAEC's system could be stronger this year after 2009's ice storm. "They're designed for probably about a ten mile an hour wind when that ice is on it."

Parts of Region 8 will have sustained winds of 20-30 miles an hour, with gusts up to 45 miles an hour. Woody said that would pose problems for power lines that already have ice on them.

"We do design our line for a certain amount of ice loading and we go above and beyond what is required by our standards. Our standards require a medium loading construction. We go beyond that," said Woody.

Woody said their electric system can handle approximately half an inch of ice. He said the main concern right now is for the northwestern section of the coverage area.

"The worst case will be if that freezing line, or the temperature line shifts and causes us to receive a lot more ice than is predicted," said Woody. "If the event doesn't occur in those counties, then we'll shift to the county that needs help."

Many meetings were held Monday across Fulton and Sharp Counties. According to Sharp County OEM Coordinator Gene Moore, FEMA has sent emergency generators to Little Rock for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management in anticipation of Tuesday's storm.

"It looks like it's going to hit the northwest more than it will here," said Moore. "We just have to wait till it comes in, and hope for the best that it is snow."

Road crews have also been preparing by installing snow plows. While most of the Region 8 viewing area will receive rain, many locations to the northwest are preparing for wintry weather.

"Some of the day in and day out work we do is really trying to make preparations for those things. Our right of ways clean, the trees trimmed back our poles and structures in good condition," said Woody. "We expect some problems. We've been preparing to get all of our people in place in the right areas to cover everything from are we going to have fuel for our vehicles to the materials involved."

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.


Powered by Frankly