Ice Storm Is Tough Test!
The leftovers from Thanksgiving were still in the fridge when the ice storm began. Around noontime, November 27th, the first calls started to come in. All the forecast had 90 to 100% chances for precipitation. We were worried about the air temperatures and how the moisture was going to fall.
Cimarron CEO, Mark Snowden had called a Storm Alert for employees, earlier in the week, just in case.
Just a few degrees in temperature can determine if you get rain, freezing rain, sleet or snow. We had mixed forecast of ice accumulations. One forecast had one half inch of ice. Another had three and a half inches of ice. As it turned out, both were correct. Just in different parts of our system.
The freezing rain ice storm has to be the worst of all the storms utilities experience. They have three different stages and can last a long time if the temperature won’t change.
The first stage is the actual falling of rain from clouds that are warmer than the air temperature below. The air temperature around the trees and power lines is below freezing so the rain sticks or freezes on them. Ice is heavy and it causes the lines and trees to droop and sag as it accumulates. When the lines touch the trees, each other or the ground, it causes an outage.
The second stage is the wind speed. When ice accumulates and the wind gets up, it is trouble. It causes the tree limbs to break. Many times they fall into the lines. Sometimes the wind causes ice on the lines to gallop. The ice is like an
airplane wing and the wind blowing over it causes it to lift. This lifting and falling of the lines causes them to bounce or gallop. This action will damage overhead lines. (Go to our web page and see video of our lines galloping!)
The third stage to an ice storm is the melting. This is a very dangerous stage as large chunks of ice start falling off the lines and trees. As the heavy ice comes off, it causes a bounce effect, which sometimes breaks the lines, poles, cross arms and trees. Even though this is the final stage in getting power restored in an
ice storm, it can be the most discouraging.
Sometimes you work for days to restore power and when the ice starts melting off, the number of outages goes back up to your starting number.
Luke Farris, Cimarron Engineering Superintendent, commented on the Thanksgiving Ice Storm. “We lost 234 poles. We replaced many cross arms, transformers, meter loops and insulators. We estimate that we had around 37 miles of line on the ground at different times,” said Luke.
Lance Cue, Cimarron Warehouse Manager, said, “There were around 125 men in the field working the ice storm. We kept them supplied with rebuilding materials. It took a tremendous amount of wire splices on the old wire to get it back together and up on the poles.”
The good news is that the lines that we have replaced in the 1249 Mile Strengthening and
Hardening Project passed the test!
They are still standing strong! Even in the worst conditions, the storm poles stopped the domino effect of poles and lines breaking. We only lost one pole in the new 1249 mile S&H Project.
Reed Emerson, Sr. V.P. of Operations & Engineering said,” I am very pleased with the results of the new Strengthening and Hardening (S&H) Upgrades. Our new S&H construction standards are holding up much better than the older construction standards. We will be so glad when the project is completed.
Many members used the outage map online and followed the updates on the facebook page.
Please update your phone numbers with us. They are the main link to reporting an outage through our system.
For more ice storm photos, click on the CEC NEWS link at the top of the home page. Thanks.