Archive for Thursday, January 6, 2005

Ice storm causes power outages; schools closed

January 6, 2005

Mother Nature unleashed the much-anticipated ice storm Tuesday, coating power lines and tree limbs most notably, which caused a rash of electrical outages in Baldwin City overnight.

The continued cold and road conditions also prompted Baldwin School District officials to cancel Thursday's scheduled return to school.

Terry McKinney, utility director, said early Wednesday morning that the freezing rain contributed to three different electrical transformer "blow ups," which caused a series of outages mostly in north and east Baldwin.

"The first one was at the Lodge and it was a bad one. We had 12,000 volts on the ground and the line was dancing all over," said McKinney.

That was right at 5 p.m. on U.S. Highway 56 and had power out in north and east Baldwin until around 8 p.m. Then, there were two other transformers that went out, one in the 500 block of High Street and the other in the FireTree Estates subdivision. Those caused shorter outages to the same areas.

"We've been at it since 4 p.m. Tuesday," McKinney said around 7 a.m. Wednesday. "We've been getting ready for this for two days. We called extra people in and have been able to keep up with it.

"We've been running on city electricity since Tuesday afternoon. The new power plant has been carrying the load," he said. "We haven't had KCPL power since Tuesday."

Tree limbs falling on power lines throughout the city have caused numerous outages, but McKinney said the entire system has never been down. Power has to be cut to areas affected by downed lines so electrical crews can fix the problems. He said that will probably continue throughout the day Wednesday.

Downtown Baldwin was only without power once through the various outages, he said.

As for roads, the ice and sleet hasn't caused any major problems and the streets have been treated by city crews since around noon Tuesday. Baldwin schools were not in session, but Baldwin High School basketball games scheduled against Ottawa Tuesday night were postponed.

Tuesday was the first day of Interterm classes at Baker University and went as planned. Baker employees were allowed to leave early Tuesday afternoon if they were concerned about driving in the ice, according to Ric Anderson, Baker spokesman.

Additional updates will be available online as information allows. Thursday's Baldwin City Signal will have storm coverage, including photos.

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