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Electric co-ops prepare for weather-related outages

Members urged to plan ahead should power be interrupted

The first significant winter weather event of the season is bearing down on Missouri, and the state's electric cooperatives are prepared for severe weather. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for portions of the Ozarks and southeast Missouri in effect from 9 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, through 6 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 6.

"Our member systems are preparing for the worst-case scenario, and we're urging members to do the same," said Barry Hart, CEO of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. "While the final path and impact of this storm system is still uncertain, there's no doubt that it's coming. Damage to electrical distribution system could be scattered or widespread, so members should make plans in case power can't be restored for several days."

According to the National Weather Service office in Springfield, Mo., precipitation will likely begin as a mix of freezing rain and sleet over southern Missouri Thursday before changing over to all snow. Freezing rain totals of 0.1 to 0.2 inches will be possible mainly south of a Salem-to-Cassville line. Three to four inches of snow is expected to fall in the same area.

Greater ice accumulations could be in store for the state's Bootheel region, according to the NWS office in Memphis. This area could see as much as 0.5 to 0.75 inches of ice accumulation beginning early Friday morning and continuing through the day.

While snow does not usually affect power supply, ice storms are among the most devastating weather events that can hit the electric power supply grid. When freezing rain falls, it can collect on lines. The heavy weight can snap lines, cause trees to fall into lines or topple poles. Crews are also hampered by icy road conditions and downed trees that make travel difficult.

Members who rely on electricity to heat their homes should make plans for alternative shelter in the event a major outage takes place. Forecasters are calling for temperatures to fall below zero and remain there for several days.

Missouri's electric cooperatives have considerable experience dealing with winter storms. When large numbers of outages occur, the Emergency Assistance Procedure coordinated by the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives in Jefferson City is enacted. As outages occur, electric cooperatives call the association to request help. The association staff coordinates bringing in crews, equipment and supplies from unaffected parts of the state to lend assistance. If the disaster is widespread, cooperatives in other states and contractors also will send help.

As the storm develops and details of any outages become clear, we will update the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives website at with the latest information.

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Jim McCarty

Jason Jenkins




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