Utility crews will be working all day today restoring power to thousands of Iowans still without electricity after a weekend of severe winter storms. The estimates ran as high as a quarter-million customers who may have lost their service from rural, municipal and rate-regulated power companies Alliant and MidAmerican.
Scott Drzycimski with Alliant Energy says the combination of snow, ice and high winds took a heavy toll.
He says he’s talked with folks who’ve been around a long time, and they say this is just about the worst impact a storm’s had on this "service territory." For Alliant, that meant a thousand or more utility poles broken or damaged, and he says it could mean the power isn’t restored to some customers for a week.
The problem started when ice built up on the lines. It changes the behavior of those lines in wind, so when the storm winds began to blow, they began to "gallop" making some of the wires fall and causing damage to the poles themselves.
There’s extensive damage with lines down and poles — as many as a thousand poles, he says, that were damaged or broken completely. Temperatures remained at seasonal normals in the upper 20s and lower thirties, and while the ice, snow and wind were a problem for crews getting to the damaged lines to repair them, at least Iowans didn’t face the life-threatening bitter cold of earlier this month.