Over Saturday evening into Sunday morning, families in the RM of Pipestone were without power for nearly 10 hours.
The McLauchlan family at Woodnorth reported their outage to Manitoba Hydro at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday, but had to spend a cold night under blankets. Power wasn’t restored to the rural residence until 7:30 a.m. Sunday says Candice McLauchlan.
Manitoba Hydro crews were hard at work all weekend said Bruce Owen, spokesperson for the power company. “By Sunday morning, it was bad.”
Power outages stretched east to Ninette, Baldur, the Belmont area and north to Rivers area.
Heavy, moist air, created ice crystals that bonded to conductors, electrical equipment and power lines.
In the RM of Wallace-Woodworth, on the northeast side of the valley power was out from about 4:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The problem extended into Saskatchewan where they had rain as well starting late last week. On Tuesday, a bulletin on SaskPower’s web site read: “SaskPower is aware of outages impacting most of the City of Regina as well as other communities… This morning, power units at Boundary Dam, Shand and Poplar River Power Stations tripped off and we lost generation. We are bringing those units back on-line as quickly and safely as possible.”
Within two hours Tuesday morning SaskPower received 20,000 calls, equal to all their calls in November.
In Manitoba, well over 5,000 customers were affected over the weekend.
“That number continued to decrease since Monday night,” said Owen. “More than 300 (hydro) staff have worked on restoring service. Regular area crews were fortified by 80 staff from Winnipeg and Dauphin.”
Comments on the MB Hydro Facebook page show concern for family members on Manitoba Hydro’s crews; some have been out working for days at a time.
In the Assiniboine valley northeast of Virden power went out around 4:00 a.m. Tuesday and continued to be off until about 11:00 a.m. Then, it was off again Tuesday afternoon for a couple of hours.
While Virden didn’t lose power over the weekend, by Tuesday, hoar frost was still hanging on lines and Owen warned, “There’s a planned outage right now in Virden.” The company was shutting down power in the Westman area to service the lines. “It’s called ice melting. We essentially send more electricity down the lines and heat them up to the point where ice and frost falls off. Once that happens, we reduce the amount of electricity in the line. What customers will see - they will lose power, which may last anywhere from two to three hours.”
Owen said that for city people and for country folk, “it doesn’t take long for one of these outages to stretch into hours.”
In the winter, freezers and fridges should be fine, but as the home cools, water lines could be in danger of freezing, to say nothing of the discomfort for residents.
“A generator gives peace of mind and can supply a little bit of heat to your home,” he said.
Prepare for emergencies.
“Pack a kit – extra batteries for a flashlight, candles or a portable lantern. Have food on hand that you don’t have to cook. Most people rely on a cell phone. If you have an adapter to charge your phone in your vehicle, that’s good. You can also buy portable battery packs that you need to have charged up.”
He suggested people take time to browse www.hydro.mb.ca/safety. Under “Outages”, the Emergency Preparedness Handbook can be found.
“It gives you an idea how to build your own emergency kit and what supplies you need. It would certainly make an unusual Christmas Gift,” he said.
There’s also information about generators, which should only be used in a well-ventilated area. Operating it in any enclosed building may lead to overheating or a build-up of carbon monoxide gas.