EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Boston and Beyond

February 9, 2013

How to prepare for snowstorm's power outages

NEW YORK (AP) — The storm bearing down on the Northeast is sure to knock down trees and power lines, leaving thousands of homes in the cold and dark, including some that endured Superstorm Sandy.

Utilities’ efforts to restore power will be hampered by high winds that are expected to last into Saturday and snow-choked roads.

There is some consolation, though: The outages aren’t expected to be anywhere near as widespread as they were in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. And restoring power will likely be a much quicker job.

Sandy brought winds of 90 miles per hour whipping through trees that were still draped with leaves. This storm is expected to bring gusts of up to 75 miles per hour. That’s still dangerous, but the leaves are long gone so trees and branches won’t be stressed as much.

“This will be nowhere near what Sandy was,” says John Latka, Vice President of Electrical Operation at the New Jersey utility Public Service Electric & Gas.

Outages in the region will likely be measured in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands — not in the millions. And the lights should be back on in a couple of days — not weeks.

Here are some questions and answers about what utilities expect, along with some important things to remember if your power goes out.

Q: How do utilities prepare for a storm like this one?

A: They start meeting in the days before a storm to make sure they have crews and equipment ready to go and to plan staffing for their command centers. They ask unaffected utilities for extra line crews to help restore power. They coordinate with state and county officials and plan public notifications. All year round, of course, utilities conduct tree-trimming programs and other maintenance activities designed to minimize damage to wires and other equipment. Now they hope it helps.

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