GLADE SPRING, Va. - Power crews got a head start doing all they can do to keep the lights on inside your home Thursday as the winter storm headed our way.
AEP officials say this mix of rain and snow are similar conditions to a big storm back in 2009. So to stay ahead of the game, crews have been busy all day trying to keep outage times down.
One after another, electric line trucks from across the Southeast were heading to our region on Interstate 81. "We're actually bringing a total of 1,500 people in Appalachia's footprint. So if we have problems and some of the adjacent areas don't then those folks will be available to use immediately," said Isaac Web with Appalachian Power.
In a snow storm like this, the primary way people lose power is when a tree close to a line falls and knocks that power line down. In fact, we learned AEP crews actually prioritize by the biggest outages where places are in critical need, since there are thousands of miles of power lines to cover.
Each line truck has a GPS system to help crews find poles in remote areas. All they have to do is type in the pole's unique number and they're ready to roll.
While flooding has been a top concern, with the rain we've had the last few days. The wet weather can loosen the ground, making it even easier for a tree to fall. "When you add a lot of weight to the top of trees with wet heavy snow, along with loosened soil on the ground, it's a big concern," added Kevin Sigmon a Utility Forrester for AEP.
Electric crews are already checking areas that are usually problematic. But if you do manage to find a down line, it's best to follow these simple instructions. "For the simple sake of safety for you, your family, your neighborhood, don't go anywhere near it [down power line] and call the power company," added Sigmon.
Electric crews want to remind people to not report a hazard that does not exist simply to get power sooner. AEP officials say it actually slows crews down because they have to find the hazard before restoring power.