Thousands without power due to strange occurrence - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

15 power poles were damaged by fires leading to power outages across the metro15 power poles were damaged by fires leading to power outages across the metro

15 power poles were damaged by fires leading to power outages across the metro

Thousands without power due to strange occurrence

(Credit: KMOV) (Credit: KMOV)
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Around 9,000 Ameren customers across the St. Louis metro area woke up Wednesday morning to power outages. Ameren has given a reason as to why these outages occurred, and it's quite peculiar.

The salt that's spread on roadways by MODOT gets ground up into a fine powder and swept up into the atmosphere by the traffic. Ameren believes some of it settled on the top surface of insulators which the electric wires run across at the top of power poles. The moisture from the mist and fog is believed to have combined with the salt and shorted out the insulators, causing electricity to flow into the wooden power poles, overheating them and starting fires.

Kevin Anders, Vice President of Operations and Technical Services, said this occurrence has happened before in recent years but did not effect as many customers. 

"We have seen it before, not unusual, but this is a higher number," said Sanders.

Power was out across the campus of Webster University and because the cafeteria was closed, so the school grilled hamburgers for students who live on campus.

"Can't do homework, we have no Wi-Fi. The power's out we can't do anything," said sophomore student Kala Colins. 

The outages happened all across the St. Louis region but were concentrated in Webster Groves, Maryland Heights, Maplewood and Clayton.

Stores on Big Bend in Webster Groves put up signs saying they were closed but not a business known as Civil Alchemy.

"It's Valentine's day and we sell flowers. We thought we'd better find a way to make this work. So we opted to take our flowers outside to let people know we're open and used a hotspot and a cell phone to run transactions," said owner Kelley Barr.

News 4 reached out to a college physics professor to get reaction to Ameren's explanation for the outages. 

"It is possible, it's a good hypothesis. Without doing a close observation or something we can't say for sure. But I believe it can happen," said Dr. Ravin Kodikara of Webster University. 

Power was restored to many businesses by early afternoon but wasn't expected to be restored to Webster University until 4 a.m. Thursday.

Most of the outages effected Missouri Ameren customers were without power while only 49 Illinois customers were without power.

Several local schools were forced to close for the day due to the power outages.

To stay up to date with the latest outages in your area click here.

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

Powered by Frankly