Numerous power outages hit the Pratt area Sunday as ice on power lines and wind combined to trip breakers with power going out from a few minutes to several hours.
Ice and wind combined Sunday to create multiple power outages that kept city electric crews busy all day. Power outages started around 6 a.m. Sunday and crews were busy all day until around 8 p.m. Sunday night. Then they were back at it at 5 a.m. Monday morning.
The combination of wind and ice on the lines caused the wires to flap and touch each other. That caused the lines to spark and set off a circuit trip, said Jamie Huber, city electric utility director.
When the circuit breaker opens at the sub station, it protects the circuit from damage. Without the breaker, it could result in a fire or it could burn a line and cause it to hit the ground, Huber said.
Most of the problems were on the outskirts of town where the lines were more exposed to the wind. At some places in Pratt, there were multiple power failures Sunday morning. The power would go off then come back on, sometimes in a few minutes, sometimes for over an hour.
“It took more time on some circuits than others,” Huber said.
The situation in Iuka was much more long lasting. Huber said Iuka was without power from around 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
When a circuit is tripped, the city crews have to track down the source of the problem. Some take a little time to locate while for others, it can take several hours like it did Sunday.
With cold temperatures and high wind, crews would find a problem and get the circuit restored then another would trip and they would have to start all over again.
Much of the problems in Pratt were on the north and east edges of Pratt but there were also outages on the west side as well. Some circuits, like in the down- town area, never went out all day, Huber said.
Working on power outages when the weather is good is one thing but when its cold and windy, it just takes longer to do everything, Huber said.
Pratt provides electrical service in some rural areas that also had power outages. Road conditions made travel in the county difficult. A couple of times he city trucks got stuck. Other times, the truck would come upon a vehicle being pulled out of the ditch and would have have to backup to get turned around.
Some places were so bad, the road was impassable. Huber had to turn around when he came upon a snow drift taller than his pickup on West First Street just west of NW 10th Avenue and the former humane society shelter.
With so many outages, city crews spent a lot of time driving to get to the affected areas both in town and out in the county.