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Record Winter Predicted! Are You Prepared?

The local news stations and radio stations have been reporting it. It’s all over social media including Facebook and Twitter. Normally, it’s just a conversation starter “how’s the weather?” I tend to be a bit pessimistic about such things but, I can’t ignore them either. So, what’s the big fuss?

Farmer’s Almanac has predicted another record cold for winter. No big deal, right? Not for school kids. It means staying home from school and playing in the snow. Parents get to stay home and play with their children. Good times, right? Sure, except for the other side of the coin.

Lower than normal temperatures aren’t a good thing if you’ve lived in Arkansas for any extended period of time. Last year was one of the coldest on record with one particular week being in the low teens for the high and this year is expected to be even colder. Ice storms in Arkansas are very common. Every 10 years roughly, Arkansas has a major ice storm with several minor ones in between.

We have already had a major one several years ago, but north Arkansas got the majority of it. Two years ago, a large portion of communities along the Arkansas River in Little Rock were affected. Last year, some of the smaller communities north of the river were affected more so with damage also occurring in parts of Little Rock. Oh, and on top of all of that, natural gas prices are expected to rise by 20% this winter.

The reason that damage occurs is because of a few things. Ice forms on power lines, even at your electrical service, and the weight causes it to come loose from your house, ripping it off of the wall, shorting out, and burning up the service. The other way is that ice forms on tree branches, weighing it down, and causing it to snap off, landing on your power line, once again pulling the service loose from the wall, shorting it out and burning it up. Even if the service isn’t pulled completely loose, the jolt can be enough to cause some older circuit breakers to come loose and burn out a panel.

So, why are we talking about winter weather in September? Sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, right? Not that we don’t mind the work but we would much rather secure your electrical service in September than have to pick it up out of your back yard in December or January with 6″ of snow on the ground to hopefully be able to reattach the whole thing back to your house. Also, the trees are green. Now is a great time to spot potential problem branches, or worse, trees!

Over the years, we’ve had great success at preventing electrical services from being pulled off of houses. Here’s a few tips:

  • Ensure that the electrical equipment is properly fastened.
    • Appropriate anchors
    • Correct number of straps

(Electrical services that extend through the roof tend to be able to handle more of an impact than ones that don’t.)  

  •      Trim problem branches now!

(If a branch has not produced foliage all year, it’s dead and time to trim it back)

  • Cut down problem trees now!
  • Trees with mushrooms growing up the trunk indicate that the tree is rotting. Cut them down!

(Pine trees tend to break the easiest under snow and ice. Know which way that they will fall if you have them and are fond of them. Otherwise, now might be a good time to trim them back or cut them down.)

  • Check for loose connections at circuit breakers and all other terminations at the electrical panel.

These are just some general tips to aid you in ensuring that the lights (and heat) stay on this winter. If your electric service gets taken out, a home backup generator won’t save you. If you service is properly braced, it’s more likely to remain intact when a branch falls on it. Depending on the size of the branch, minor damage will occur and may even pull the service drop loose, leaving the service firmly attached to the house. Worst case, a tree falls and all you can hope fore is that you weren’t in the way!


Lucas Stewart

Category: Uncategorized

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