Majority of power restored following windstorm that knocked out power poles

ST. GEORGE – City power crews have restored power to the majority of customers who experienced a power outage Thursday evening after high winds blasted through the area and slammed power poles on 900 South on the east and west side of River Road in St. George.

“Normally you don’t get this many poles knocked out together and blown over,” said Laurie Mangum, the city’s energy services director, “but that’s just how severe (the wind) was.”

Following reports of the downed poles and power lines Thursday, the City of St. George issued the following advisory on Facebook:

POWER OUTAGE ALERT: downed 69kV power pole at 900 south and River Road due to high wind gusts. Public safety and energy services crews on scene. Please avoid driving near this area. Some commercial and residential power customers along River Road may experience outages for several hours this evening. We will keep you updated with information.

High winds whipped through St. George and blew over a number of power poles in the area of 900 South and River Road. This knocked out power to hundreds of power customers along River Road, though power to most was restored later that evening with power crews continuing to work into the night to restore power to those who remain without, St. George, Utah, March 30, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The windstorm and resulting power outage began around 5:30 p.m.

An estimated 500 power costumers are believed to have been initially affected by the power outage sparked by the lines going down, Mangum said.

As of 7 p.m. she estimated that around 300 customers remained without power. Mangum also stated at the time it might take between five and six hours to put the poles back in place, replace a pole that snapped in two, and finally restore power.

However, city officials said in a 9:18 p.m. update on Facebook that the majority of power customers along River Road had their power restored.

Update: 95% of the customers affected by the outage tonight along River Road have had their power restored. It may be several more hours to fully restore everyone due to the severity of the situation. Parts of River Road will remain closed while crews finish the repairs tonight.

Dixie Regional Medical Center was affected for only a few minutes before back-end generators kicked in and restored power there, Mangum said.

Winds estimated to be around 60 mph tore through the area of 900 South and River Road. On the east side of River Road, four poles were left leaning over at various angles and a light pole in front of a residence was also blown over.

High winds whipped through St. George and blew over a number of power poles in the area of 900 South and River Road. This knocked out power to hundreds of power customers along River Road, though power to most was restored later that evening with power crews continuing to work into the night to restore power to those who remain without, St. George, Utah, March 30, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

On the west side of River Road, a power pole on the corner of the intersection was blown over and was snagged in a tree, with lines sitting on top of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel nearby.

Scorch marks showed where the lines had come in contact with the church’s roof and blown off some of the roof tiles. Those tiles sat in broken pieces on the steps up to the church’s entrance.

Power to the line ended up shutting down after it hit the church roof, St. George Fire Battalion Chief Darren Imlay said.

“After three cycles, the power shut off,” Imlay said.

The next pole was ripped out of its concrete foundation and snapped in two in the church’s parking lot.

“We’re going to have to put in a new pole and re-energize that,” said Marc Mortensen, the city’s support services director, “but it’s going to take a while, it’s a pretty big line.”

Downed lines crossed from the parking lot and also the front of homes next to the church. Those power lines gradually rose up to yet another pole that was also leaning over.

High winds whipped through St. George and blew over a number of power poles in the area of 900 South and River Road. This knocked out power to hundreds of power customers along River Road, though power to most was restored later that evening with power crews continuing to work into the night to restore power to those who remain without, St. George, Utah, March 30, 2017 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

Though power to the lines had been shut off, Imlay said people inside the homes where the lines could be seen sagging out front were asked to “shelter in place” until told otherwise.

All the while, the high winds, accompanied by intermittent rain, continued to whip though the area as power crews set to work.

Access to River Road and a part of 900 South was shut down by St. George Police as city power crews assessed the scene and set to work. A Washington County Sheriff’s deputy was also on hand and aided with traffic diversion.

Access to some of the subdivisions along the north side of 900 South between 900 East and River Road was also blocked due to the sagging power lines overhead.

No one was harmed in connected with the power poles being blown over and damage to the building the lines came in contact with was fairly minor, Imlay said.

St. George Fire was also on the scene.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

St. George News reporter Joseph Witham contributed to this story.

Ed. note: This article was updated with an additional Facebook post from the City of St. George and video from the scene.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

 

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5 Comments

  • knobe March 31, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Given the narrow profile , I am kind of surprised the poles can be taken down by less than hurricane force winds .
    Is the base support inadequate ?

    • comments March 31, 2017 at 10:23 am

      My guess is the wood was rotted out and just snapped, not sure.

  • wilbur March 31, 2017 at 10:47 am

    In the quest to secure ever more investor profit, routine maintenance is routinely deferred.

    • observant one March 31, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      in the quest to secure ever more investor profit, routine maintenance is routinely done

  • wilbur April 1, 2017 at 8:58 am

    These rotted poles beg to differ.

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