Northwest Iowa has been hit hard by the latest winter storm to move into Iowa. Alliant Energy spokesman, Ryan Stensland, says ice and wind took their toll on power lines Wednesday.
“These lines are designed to withstand about three-quarters to an inch of ice and they’re designed to withstand 70 to 90 mile-an-hour sustained winds. But when you put those two together, the lines start to get moving, the ice on those lines creates a lot of weight and it starts to pull on those lines downward and eventually those poles will snap,” Stensland says.
He said late Wednesday crews were out trying to make repairs to snapped poles and lines, but conditions were dangerous with the high winds. “They may have just got done clearing away some tree branches off a power line and a gust of wind will come up and it knocks down another part of the tree into the power line because there’s so much weight on the trees and on the lines right now,” Stensland explains, “So, a pretty dangerous situation.”
He says crews are trying to make some headway, but he says they have to be careful. “Really the first priority is the safety of our crews. They are going to do the best that they can to try and get to where the outages are and get the power restored,” Stensland says.
“But we also want their safety to be the first priority. So, they’re being constantly reminded to not try and push the envelope.” Stensland says unless there is a major change in conditions today, not all the power will be back on right away.
“Customers will be without power for a day or two, so they should plan accordingly,” Stensland says. The majority of the problems are near the northern border of the state.
“You’re talking about Osceola County, Emmet, those are a couple of the hardest hit areas. We did have some outages down in Dickinson County and then it extends northward up into southern Minnesota,” according to Stensland. “Primarily the towns in Iowa that have been hardest hit are George, Little Rock, the Sibley has been pretty hard hit, and the Matlock area.”
He says a lot of rural electric coops and municipal utilities) are having some issues with outages. Stensland says some 4,200 Alliant Customers were without power late Wednesday. One report said some 1,300 rural electric coop customers had lost power due to downed power lines.