Are Ohio Storm Blackouts A New Normal?Posted on
Summer Storms Bring Blackouts
It’s been severe storm after severe storm this summer. And with these storms, power failures blacked out homes across the state. You may be thinking that there have been more power outages lately than there used to be. Well, you’d be right. Not only are storm blackouts inconvenient, they can also affect electricity rates. But, are Ohio storm blackouts the new normal? And if they are, is there anything we can do to fix it?
Source of Summer Storms
Heat domes over Texas and the south can turn the atmosphere over the midwest into a breeding ground for severe weather. For example, in 2021, major weather-related events in Ohio accounted for 37% of outages. According National Weather Service data, Ohio saw 500 high wind events between 2000 and 2023 where wind speeds exceeded 40 knots ( or 46.03 mph ). Of those, 156 events occurred since 2020. That's nearly 30% of all high wind events in just the past 3 years. And when stormy winds tangle with power lines, there's usually trouble.
Shining A Light On Ohio Power Lines
Summer storm blackouts usually start with power lines. When the winds pick up, you may see power lines flapping in the breeze, galloping along. And that is what the term is called, "galloping". When wires vibrate with the frequency of the wind, they form arcs and curves that reverberate down the line. This of course, leads them to get stretched, tangled, and broken. Which means you don’t get power. But burying power lines is prohibitively expensive. That's partly because it actually costs far more than just replacing lines when they break.
One of the other chief problems is the age of the whole Ohio grid system itself. That's especially true out in more rural parts of the state. Many areas are using transmission lines that are well over 50-70 years old. These lines also handle energy demand load that far outstrips what they were originally meant to handle. And in Ohio in particular, legislation has prevented incentives to reduce home energy demand on lines. Over time, the weather extremes and resistance heating weakens the cables. And it’s getting worse.
Preventing Storm Blackouts and Damage
So how do you prevent damage to the lines around your home? The easiest way is to call in about tree maintenance. Tree branches pose the most common danger to power lines. If you notice branches touching lines, or damaged limbs that may fall, call your local power utility. Ohio utilities are the ones that own and maintain the poles and wires. So don't call any of the electric suppliers when your power goes out.
Be sure to keep a hard copy of your utility's help number handy (on the refrigerator door, for example) since mobile data can be unreliable during storm conditions. You should also report damaged or fraying lines around your area. If you notice a line sagging, damaged poles, or anything else amiss with a power line, call and report it to your utility before it becomes a problem.
Summer Storm Blackouts Are Not Going Away
Unfortunately, storm blackouts could be the new normal. In the meantime, be sure to follow federal guidelines for power outage readiness. Also be sure to keep an eye on the lines in your area. Also, protect your home electronics by investing in surge protectors to reduce damage from power surges. These can help you save money and frustration in the long run.And finally, be sure to learn about the latest news about legislation for grid integrity at www.ohenergyratings.com.