How power companies are preparing for strong winds in Western Pennsylvania Tuesday

CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. — Even though this is the week of Thanksgiving, West Penn Power tells Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek that crews will be working as they normally do on Tuesday. They’re fully staffed and ready to go, ready for a storm bringing high winds, rain, and potential freezing rain to the mountain ridge communities.

If West Penn Power has to enter storm mode, those crews are ready to work long hours.

“If this materializes and we’re having a lot of outages, we can hold them throughout the day and get into what we call our storm mode, where our crews are working 16 hours on, with 8 hours of rest until the last customer is back on,” said spokesman Todd Myers.

Unlike treating roads for snow storms, the power companies can’t really prepare for a specific storm. But they work all summer -- trimming trees and other plants around and above power poles -- to do as much as they can to prevent a tree or branch from falling on power lines, and causing major blackouts.

Of course, it’s still possible, even with prevention.

“There can still be overhanging branches that can impact us,” Myers said. “So there’s always that potential, but you don’t dare let things go because it’ll wreak all kinds of havoc.”

One thing Myers said is good about the timing of this storm is that this wind storm with potential freezing rain in the mountain ridge communities is happening in late November.

Most of the leaves are off of the trees, allowing for trees to not take on so much weight from potential ice.

“This is better than it would be maybe if we were looking at this a month earlier,” Myers said.

The Connellsville School District Superintendent told Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek that he and the school’s grounds staff will be out early Tuesday morning to monitor the weather for the mountain ridges with the winter weather advisory and potential freezing rain and will be aware of any high wind and power outages.

That way, they will be able to make the best decision for students and staff -- if any delays or cancellations are required.

West Penn Power has one big reminder for anyone who may come across a downed line.

“Stay at least 30 feet away from a downed line, because you or I can’t tell if it’s energized or not,” Myers said.

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