Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A lineman for the county...

We had some wind. Or should I say we had some wind!

power lines-06 032
Originally uploaded by S'mee.

We have lived in this same little town since 1979 and we have seen some winds. Heck, it's almost a town motto. If you look up the stats on our town you will find that the wind-she does indeed blow- and just about every day. That's why it's called a desert and nothing grows. It is too busy blowing the seeds north or south for anything thing to stick long enough to sprout. But then there was January 1, 2006.

We had such hard wind that things got tossed around a bit.

power lines-06 024
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
In the top photo you can see that from one of the main intersections on the west (left) for about 2/3 mile to the east, power lines came crashing across the "main drag". They just snapped in two and fell across the highway. The photos I took are from standing in a parking lot, which is on what they have here (horrid idea btw) - the outer highway. The poles you see still standing are snapped in half. In the second photo you can get a better idea of just how intense the wind was and just how fast these lines went down. That's a steel post that looks triangular.

bell mt.-power lines-06 030
Originally uploaded by S'mee.
In the third photo it shows one of the first poles still hanging in the air. The tension on the highwires was so that all the insulators (the cap-like pieces between the wire and the pole arms) were pulled towards the west at a tight angle; and this for over a mile in opposite directions.

The wind (and rain!) continued throughout the day and well into last night as the linemen worked getting the power back on. We were out of power for about 10 hours. It was interesting to watch the repair work being done and just how and what needed to be done to insure the safety of the men. This is a huge part of Thor's family trade. His dad was a lineman. It was fun to sit next to Thor (who was home with a pretty bad 'thor' throat) in the car as he explained a lot of it to s'mee. It was particularly nice, because this time there were visuals to accompany the explanation! Did you know that the transformers (white canister looking thing on the pole - 3 in the 2nd photo, on the ground) contain an oil?

We were able to stay far enough away from the men as they worked but close enough to witness; and would stop by a couple of times during the day and night to see the different processes at rebuilding the line. They had to work on some of the line while it was still hot, then after a while they were able to shut some of it down.

Poles had to be stabilized and then eventually cut into manageable pieces (still to heavy for three men to pick up) and be removed along with all the wires and pieces of the pole that had been damaged. A couple of the poles at either end were literally bowed by the weight and stress and were being tethered to the ground with cables or actually held into a secure position by line trucks or booms. New holes had to be drilled and new pole set into place. Section of wire had to be reinstalled and others had to stay in place and be readjusted. A haz-mat team was sent to clean up certain spots where the oil spilled, while other crew members scoured the street and area for debris. I am still amazed that they could re-lay an entire 2/3 mile of line in one day.

I suggest that if you want a clearer look, click on the photos. All in all it was an interesting New Year's Day.

add to sk*rt


chronicler said...

Holy moly! It looks more like you had a micro burst tornado!

chronicler said...

I just saw your neighborhood on the news! They were talking about replacing all the poles! And I can't believe they closed that road for all day! Eeeek where did everyone go????

s'mee said...

Luckily, because we are the megolopolis we are, we only had to drive like a half block to detour around the mess. The only services that were closed was a recyler, the circle k, and two tire stores. The other stores along that road were closed for the holiday.

Now because the damage cut power for the amount of homes... that is another matter! We drove around all day trying to stay warm via the car! The electric starts in the gas heating wouldn't work, so there you go. So we went out for lunch, and then again for some hot cocoa in the evening, a lot of cruzin' and watchin' the repair!

chronicler said...

Oh to sacrifice for Hot Chocolate! I feel for ya! ;-)