Top 5 Spring Power Risks
Posted by Kristopher Schwind
What do April showers bring? If you guessed “debilitating power outages,” you’d be right.
While it’s true that spring brings plenty of sunshine, there’s always a threat of spring storms—and other natural power threats—that run a high chance of interrupting your home’s energy supply.
Springtime greets the Northeast with dramatic, unpredictable weather that can change in a matter of hours. This can include: snow storms, heavy rain, lightning, and strong winds. These rapid weather changes create natural hazards that can compromise your power system. Power outages—any time of the year—can be costly and dangerous to households and businesses.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the looming power threats that come with spring in the Northeast:
Come spring, the last thing we want to consider is the possibility of more snow. However, it’s been historically proven that snow can be a frequent guest in the tri-state area during April—even May in some cases.
In fact, the region has experienced:
- 9 snow storms in New York City in the last century and
- 4 May snowfalls since 1940
These stats shouldn’t come as a surprise for local residents since the recorded Hudson Valley average April snowfall is 1.4-2.3 inches.
Spring wind gusts are a very real threat in the Northeast, resulting in faults or short circuits that interrupt power. Severe winds often damage trees, causing limbs to fall off and collide with power lines.
Fallen trees may be one of the major causes of power outages when strong winds occur, but even if you don’t live in a densely wooded area, you may still be at risk. Power lines have been known to break under the pressure of severe winds.
Lightning is one of the most common causes of outages. Electrical equipment (utility poles, wires, transformers, etc.) and power lines are struck often by lightning, resulting in power loss.
Electrical utilities are not only at risk of being struck by lightning, but also by a phenomenon called “sferic.” Sferics are electromagnetic shock waves that ripple in all directions following—and sometimes preceding—a lightning strike. Due to sferic, countless homes and businesses have experienced power outages before lightning strikes.
We’re all eager to see warmer weather in the Northeast, but winter’s snowfall will inevitably become heavy spring rains. Lingering snow packs will begin to melt as temperatures rise, magnifying threats of flooding. Combined, heavy rains and snowmelt can result in severe damage to both overhead and underground electrical equipment.
Rainstorms also lead to slick and unsafe road conditions which, believe it or not, also pose a serious threat to the power grid. A significant number of power outages are caused by vehicles colliding with utility poles. In 2015 alone, 2,000 vehicle accidents involving utility poles were reported—and that was only in the state of Virginia.
Neighborhood wildlife can be undoubtedly cute company—but they can also cause destruction to electrical systems (which is decidedly less cute).
In fact, bird, squirrels, and other animals accounted for 9-21% of unplanned outages in 2013 and 2014. These outages are mainly the result of chew-happy squirrels.
Your neighborhood squirrels have more of an impact than you may imagine. A single squirrel-induced outage can affect as many as 13,000 people at a time. Moreover, a 2005 study observes that squirrel caused outages led to California’s economy losing between $32 million and $317 million that year.
Beware of the squirrel.
Be Prepared to Combat Spring Power Threats
Power outages can become costly to a residential household—food spoils, pipes freeze, electronic appliances risk damage, sanitation systems are halted, critical medical equipment ceases to work, and countless other devastating interruptions occur as a result of an outage.
Power outages not only cost residential properties money, but in some instances, they can cost human lives. That’s why it’s crucial to stay prepared by having a trusted and efficient emergency back up power supply.
For many, the next question is often whether a standby generator or an emergency generator is the best way to go. To make your most informed decision, it can help to know the difference between the two.
Backup, or portable, generators, are temporary installations. Here’s what you need to know:
- Backup generators are designed to provide temporary power backup power as needed.
- Backup generators must be manually started/require on-site startup.
- Portable generators require the use of extension cords.
- Backup generators must be periodically refueled.
Standby generators, on the other hand, are permanent installations. Here’s what you need to know:
- Standby generators are always standing by, ready to serve you in the event of an outage
- Standby generators start up automatically.
- Standby generators provide a reliable, steady source of power with little to no disruptions, for hours—even days—at a time.
Make your emergency power plan a priority this spring, starting with a free consultation to see what standby generator can work best for your home or business.
Kristopher Schwind is the proud owner of National Standby Repair.