Power outages across D.C. won’t be uncommon during the 36-hour blizzard that’s about to hit the region, according to officials.
“We cannot anticipate how many trees or wires will go down,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser at a press conference Friday morning. “[The] sustained winds and wet snow will mean we will see trees go down and power customers affected.” The mayor added that the District has coordinated with utilities-company Pepco on contracting “outside resources” to assist with responses to damaged infrastructure, and that Pepco is embedded within D.C.’s emergency-operations center that will manage the storm.
On Thursday, a Pepco executive told reporters that the company has more than 550 personnel ready to tackle issues during the blizzard, advising customers to report outages and keep away from downed wires. At this morning’s preparedness-update event, D.C.’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Director Chris Geldart gave more details on potential outages.
“We modeled this [blizzard] event earlier his week with Pepco,” he explained quite soberly. “[As for] estimates, I will tell it to you on this end: If we have less than 25,000 customers without power at the end of this storm, it will have been a good day.”
The difference between the coming snowstorm and 2010’s “Snowmaggedon” in D.C. is the sheer strength of anticipated winds, which are expected to reach 50 mph during significant parts of it. “A lot of things are going to be blowing around,” Geldart said.
In case of power outages or downed wires, residents can call Pepco at 877-737-2662. Geldart advised against candles as sources of light because of their inherent fire risk, instead recommending battery-powered flashlights and lamps. If residents have portable generators, they should not be placed in enclosed areas, he said, to prevent the danger of carbon-monoxide poisoning.
This post has been updated with Pepco’s statement
Photo by Darrow Montgomery