Kim Johnson ReportingRemember what you were doing a year ago today? Chances are you were either playing in the foot or more of snow that was covering the Wasatch Front, or you were trying to keep warm. Here’s a look back at the record storm that brought record power outages.
It was a beauty, as storms go; one of the top five in recent history. We certainly needed the moisture, but it came with a hefty price. First rain fell, then snow -- enough of it to overwhelm tree limbs, down power lines, and leave more than 100,000 customers out in the cold.
Power crews from other communities came to assist local linemen who worked around the clock. Still thousands were powerless for several days. They lived around the fireplace. Some were very unhappy with Utah Power.
Maggie Shaw: “This was not a horrible storm. These are the kind of storms we used to get in Utah all the time.”
The public backlash prompted Parent Company executives to make a trip to Utah and apologize.
Bill Landels, Executive Vice-President of Pacific Corp.: “I so much regret so much of the anxiety and frustration that we saw firsthand ourselves. And other times so many people have called to tell us what happened. For all that we are truly sorry as a company.”
The company played catch up during the last year. A spokesman says Utah Power has upgraded its computer system to handle more service calls—18,000 at a time now. He says on-call schedules have also been tightened, and improvements have been made to the company's infrastructure.
Dave Eskelsen, Utah Power & Light: “Substations, line rebuilding, capacity improvements, we’re not finished yet. We have more to do, but we feel we’re better prepared to handle a big storm now than certainly we were a year ago.”
And the forecast is calling for another storm this week, a storm that includes rain turning to snow.
Dave Eskelsen: “When that happens you do get more accumulation on all kinds of surfaces --the power lines themselves, poles—so you know we’ll be watching the weather forecast very closely.”
It’s safe to say everyone will be watching the storm. It would be nice to get the precipitation we need without all the damage. Just in case, it might be a good idea to have plenty of flashlights, candles, and firewood on hand.