Pepco, Dominion Virginia Power prepare for possibility of snow-related outages
With a Winter Storm Warning looming on the horizon, residents in the D.C. area need only to look up to see the most serious threats - power lines and trees.
Pepco dispatched 300 tree trimming crews across D.C. and Maryland Tuesday to snip as many loose limbs and large branches as possible.
"We are preparing for the worst. Bottom line, all the forecasts are calling for heavy, wet snow," explained Pepco Media Relations Manager Marcus Beale.
Resident Carolyn Bridges-Ward said she's preparing for the possibility of losing power.
"Yes, I am going to stock up on some non-perishable items," she added.
Work for utility crews is in overdrive. In Southeast Washington, contractors replaced a light pole, as the dangerous mixture is soon to arrive. Strong winds in addition to heavy, wet snow could potentially put trees in contact with overhead power lines, which can leave residents in the dark.
Pepco has 450 crews in the area, with an additional 300 coming from Alabama and Georgia. Crews will respond to the areas with the most need; but Pepco says when wind speeds hit more than 35 mph, it will be too dangerous to put the buckets in the air. The power company adds they're determined to get residents back online if the storm knocks electricity out.
Meanwhile, in Falls Church, Va., Lisa Abbey is improvising. She has a big family dinner coming up and her refrigerator is packed. She, like many, does not want to lose power.
"The tree area is what make this community so enjoyable, but as you can see, we do have overhead power lines...," Abbey explained.
As Dominion Virginia Power's truck yard, workers are mobilizing, gearing up and getting ready for a big job.
John Michaelvitch has worked the power lines for 27 years. He expects the new few days to be among the hardest he's ever experienced.
"You are ready for bed when you get home," the lead lineman said.
At the command center, they are looking at the forecast and mapping out possible outages.
An SOS has gone out from the Herndon headquarters.
Le-Ha Anderson, a spokesperson for Dominion Virginia Power, said, "We have a lot of people coming."
Crews in Virginia Beach and the Richmond area have already arrived. Re-enforcements from points south may come in Thursday, if needed.
"We know that with wet, heavy snow the potential for power outages is pretty significant," Anderson added.
Dominion Virginia Power officials believe the storm could be in a class of its own.
Abbey just hopes it isn't as bad as the derecho last summer, which hit right before her daughter's wedding.
"We planned for a year and a half. I just hope nobody is getting married tomorrow," she said.
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