Cold weather cause of recent power outages
January 8, 2010
Craig — Three power outages that affected more than 1,000 Craig homes in the past two days are most likely because of extreme cold weather, Yampa Valley Electric Association officials said.
At 6:30 a.m. Thursday, the Craig East circuit malfunctioned, probably because of low temperatures. The same circuit malfunctioned again at 9:30 p.m. Thursday.
YVEA spokesman Jim Chappell said new circuit breakers were not prepared for the extreme cold.
"We're sure it's a malfunction in control circuit boards," he said. "We're not positive what's caused it, but we think it's related to the extreme cold. We're working with a manufacturer right now to solve some of those issues."
He said the company bought new circuit breakers in the summer, which were not properly adjusted for wide temperature ranges.
For the time being, Chappell said heaters will be put in the control room while crews work on adjustments.
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Another outage at 6:10 a.m. Friday cut off power to residents connected to the YVEA circuit, which includes parts of eastern Craig.
A downed power line in the Moffat County Fairgrounds area caused the outage, which lasted more than three hours.
Chappell said that circuit is back up and functioning properly.
The power line might have broken because of extreme cold temperatures, as well.
"Aluminum wire expands and contracts with the weather," he said. "The extreme cold could have caused a tension break."
He said crews were also working on several individual outages because of the cold.
Chappell said YVEA did not know Friday how many Moffat County homes had been impacted by the recent outages.
Temperatures reached minus 26 degrees Thursday night at the Craig/Moffat County Airport.
Normal temperatures in January range from 7 to 31 degrees.
In 1984, Craig temperatures hit a January record low of minus 36 degrees. The record high for the month is 57 degrees, which occurred in 1981.
National Weather Service forecaster Mike Chamberlain said an arctic cold front, combined with clear skies and a lingering high pressure system, have kept temperatures from rising out of the single digits.
A weak system will move through the area providing some cloud cover and a subsequent temperature increase of a few degrees, but Chamberlain said the cold air will linger in the valleys until at least mid-week, when a low pressure system moves through.
"There's going to be some additional cloud cover and maybe some milder temperatures at night," he said. "But we don't see any significant warm-up. We don't see any big pattern changes coming up.
"It's not going to get above freezing anytime soon."