Crews from Manitoba Hydro are continuing to fan out across southern Manitoba in an effort to restore power outages caused by a severe winter storm. While the utility has already restored thousands of customers, as of 10 am Friday over 37,000 customers, including more than 26,000 in Winnipeg, remain without electricity.
“This is a major weather event,” said Scott Powell, Director of Corporate Communications for Manitoba Hydro. “The heavy wet snow is weighing down trees and bringing them into contact with overhead wires, causing outages all over our system. We are also seeing equipment failures due to tree contact, and failures due to wet snow sticking to insulators. In other cases, we are seeing the storm break poles and damage the hardware that holds up our wires.”
Powell said the utility is bringing in staff from areas unaffected by the storm to assist local crews, but that slippery roads are making travel difficult. The deteriorating weather is also slowing restoration times. He added that outages are growing in number and size and this may continue over the next couple of days.
“As of this morning we are no longer able to provide estimated times for restoration (ETRs) on our outages due to the extremely high volume of calls we are receiving and the continuing deterioration of the weather and roads,” Powell said. “We understand the difficulty this poses for our customers, and I want them to know our people are doing everything they can to get power back on to affected areas as safely and quickly as possible.”
“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work through thousands of no power calls.”
The utility is expecting the number of outages to continue to climb throughout Friday as the weather system continues to blanket heavy wet snow over southern Manitoba and winds increase. Powell indicated that as fast as existing outages are being restored, new ones are being reported.
The utility is also reminding everyone to stay away from downed powerlines.
“If you see a line on the ground, just assume it is still live. Stay away from it, keep others away from it and call 911 immediately,” said Powell. “Also, notify our Contact Centre at 1-888-MBHYDRO or 204-360-5900 so we can get a crew there as quickly as possible to make the area safe. It may take some time to get through, but public safety is our first priority.”
In an effort to streamline calls and try and minimize wait times, Hydro is asking customers to only call the Contact Centre in the event of a downed line or other emergency. Powell reminds customers they can report power outages online from their smart phones.
Customers can refer to the Manitoba Hydro website for tips on how to prepare for a power outage.