(WGHP) — The hazardous snow and sleet from this weekend’s approaching winter storm could cause an estimated 750,000 customers to lose power in North Carolina and South Carolina, according to a Duke Energy statement released on Saturday.
Power outages in some of the hardest-hit areas could last several days.
“If you rely on electricity for medical needs, you need to be figuring out what your alternate plan is now because if you need to relocate and the roads are icy that becomes a challenge,” said Jeff Brooks, spokesperson for Duke Energy.
Ahead of the storm, which could last two days, Duke Energy has staged more than 10,000 workers – power line technicians, damage assessors and vegetation workers – across the Carolinas.
About 4,100 of those workers are from other companies, some based in Texas and Oklahoma.
The more than 10,000 total workers also include Duke Energy crews normally based in Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky who have traveled to the Carolinas to assist North Carolina and South Carolina-based Duke Energy workers.
All crews are ready to begin power restoration as soon as weather conditions safely allow.
Ice-buildup on trees and branches that causes them to fall on power lines is usually the main culprit behind power outages during a winter storm. Specifically, ice buildup of a quarter-inch or more is often the threshold amount that causes trees and branches to topple.
The heavy weight of significant ice buildup directly on power lines themselves can sometimes cause the lines to fall or sag as well. Heavy, wet snow of six inches or more also can cause trees and branches to fall on power lines.
Travel conditions could be hazardous after the storm passes, possibly delaying Duke Energy crews’ ability to access hard-hit areas to assess storm damage and restore power.
Following the storm, as conditions permit, crews will begin assessing the extent of the damage. This can sometimes take 24 hours or more in major storms with widespread damage and hazardous driving conditions.
Damage assessments determine the types of crews, equipment and supplies needed to restore power.
Power restoration crews will begin working immediately after the storm, but restoration efficiency improves as damage assessment information is available to ensure the right workers and materials are sent to each power outage location.
Duke Energy will provide estimated power restoration times to customers once damage assessments are completed.
The company also will provide regular updates to customers and communities through emails, text messages, outbound phone calls, social media and its website, which includes power outage maps.
The company is working closely with state officials in both North Carolina and South Carolina to prepare for the storm.
Duke Energy serves 4.3 million customers in the Carolinas: 3.5 million in North Carolina and 800,000 in South Carolina.