February marked a time of historic snow for the residents of Southern Maryland. We faced back-to-back blizzards in less than a week and all-time seasonal snow totals, making this the snowiest winter on record.
Before the first storm hit on February 5, our crews, contractor crews, and crews on loan from other Cooperatives were on standby. A majority of the outages crews repaired were caused by tree branches loaded with ice and snow that fell onto power lines. Most of the falling trees affected only lines, but others caused utility poles to break. In many cases, linemen were forced to wade through hip-deep snow and battle blowing wind to reach trouble spots, hauling the necessary equipment and climbing poles to repair lines because the rights-of-way were blocked to vehicles. Crews worked diligently to restore power even as the next storm loomed.
All storm-related outages from the first blizzard were restored by 10 p.m. Monday night, prior to the next wave of snow. The second storm’s high winds caused white-out conditions. For a period of time, even snow plow drivers were grounded, and linemen were restricted from going up in the bucket trucks to complete repairs. Because of the many harrowing conditions and set-backs, SMECO had a total of 11,824 customers affected by outages at the peak. There were a total of 1,232 incidents from February 5 to February 11, 2010. Thanks to the hard work of 45 SMECO crews, 10 Pike crews, 10 Penn Line crews and 2 crews from Cooperatives in Virginia, 42 percent of the incidents were restored in under four hours, 58 percent in under eight hours, and 85 percent within one day. All storm-related outages were resolved by Wednesday, February 10, and SMECO was back to normal operations. After power was restored to all our customer-members, SMECO sent four service trucks to northern Maryland to help Pepco with their restoration efforts.