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Severe Weather & Thunderstorms Know Your Risk

Why Do Storms Cause Power Outages?

When the electricity flickers, we hold our breath. And, we curse when it goes out and stays out.

We will look at why do storms cause power outages and how best to handle the next one.

What is the most common cause of power outage?

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Weather events are the most common cause of death among power outages. 

Storms are a natural enemy of electricity. 

  • wind
  • extreme heat
  • ice and snow 
  • lightening 
  • flooding

Why does electricity go out during storms?

Let’s better understand why storms cause power outages, so at least we’ve got an idea of what the problem may be when you’re stuck in the dark.

Wind

Wind Blowing

Whether a gust or steady wind can do all sorts of damage to a power line.

  • When swinging wildly, two powerlines can collide and cause a fault or short circuit that turns the lights out.
  • Strong winds can take down an entire tree, which then takes out entire power lines. This is dangerous because the lines are then on the ground, creating a public health hazard.
  • And with violent enough winds, utility poles and connected power lines can break, which leads to widespread outages.

What do you do in a power outage at night?

  • First, grab the candles from your emergency kit. You don’t need a stubbed toe.
  • You want to keep your fridge and freezer closed to retain as much cold as possible.
  • Turn on your generator. Only if it is outdoors and not near any windows!
  • Never use your oven and stove for light or heat when the power goes out.
  • Disconnect everything from outlets in case a surge comes in when energy is restored. Make sure your phone / radio works.
  • Have an emergency plan in place, especially if you have special medication or medical devices. Having a few shelf stable emergency foods is also good.
  • Contact local officials to find a community cooling or heating station if it’s too cold or too hot.

Extreme Heat

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During the summer months, we use more electricity because it’s damned hot. But, the increased use puts a strain on equipment, which can overload

Extreme heat can cause other damage that will result in loss of service.

  • Sagging power lines
  • Cable failures
  • Shorted circuits and transformers

Ice & Snow

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Heavy ice and snow buildup will break branches that fall on electricity lines. The weight of all that cold stuff can even break the power line itself.

Lightning

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Lightening is a threat because it’s looking for the quickest route to the ground. It means that tall utility poles are a prime target for a strike.

A direct hit is not the only way lightning can lead to a power outage. It can hit trees and branches that then fall onto the lines, causing service interruptions.

What is it called when you lose power for no more than a few seconds?

When lights flicker, it isn’t an outage. It’s called all sorts of things, though, including power flickers, momentary outages, and brief service interruptions.

As long as the power comes back, it really doesn’t matter why it happened. But, it is annoying that everything in the house restarts.

And, we will never remember to change the clock on the stove.

Flooding

Flooding presents more problems than you’d think. It can damage overhead and underground utility equipment.

Tons of flowing water can take down trees, too. In turn, emergency personnel and repair crews must clear a way to respond.

Why do electricity go off when it rains?

Heavy and torrential rains don’t always have to lead to a flood, disrupting service.

  • Knocks down power lines
  • Blows objects into power lines
  • Floods above ground and underground equipment
  • Damages insulation

Other Causes for a Power Outage

Even during a storm, it might not be the actual storm that takes out your power.

Vehicle Accidents

Wrecks on the road sometimes include utility poles. When that happens, a whole area experiences a power outage. And, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do until the accident is resolved.

Small Animals

We’ve all experienced it. A cute little squirrel walks the tight line, and the next thing that happens is a loud pop sound.

We know that the critter likely didn’t survive because our electricity rarely survives.

Trees

Trees fall by themselves sometimes, especially the old and hollow ones. 

Sure, storms are the number one reason why a power outage happens.

But, it feels like trees are the real enemy.

FAQs about Storms & Power Outages

Why does lightning make the power go out?

Lightening can short your utilities if it strikes a pole. When lightning hits a tree, it increases the odds of it falling onto power lines, taking your utilities with it.

Why don’t you have water after a power outage?

You’d think you at least would have water when the power goes out, but alas, it might go out due to the low-pressure switch.

A water tank has a certain amount of pressure; without power, the pressure drops, which causes the water level to drop. Just try and only use water when you absolutely have to.

How can I charge my phone without electricity?

You can charge your cellphone or other device using a charged laptop. Using the USB ports, plug in your phone, and it should charge.

It won’t charge your phone quickly, so avoid using it while it’s charging on your computer. If you’re relying on this hack to keep a charge on your phone, avoid using the laptop for anything else, just for preservation.

Does a well work during a power outage?

We love our well water, but when the power goes, the well pump will go out, too.

You should be able to draw from the well until the water storage tank is empty.

What is the longest power outage in the US?

In 2017, Hurricane Maria took out power in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It affected hundreds of thousands of people and lasted 100 days. 

What would happen if the whole world lost electricity?

Let’s just say that preparedness & self-reliance is key to surviving if the world loses access to electricity. Everything we do, from grocery stores to drinking tap water, relies on access to power.