Saturday, January 16, 2021

Windstorm causes scattered power outages

Staff Writer | January 14, 2021 1:00 AM

MOSES LAKE — Strong winds caused by a cold front led to scattered electrical outages around Grant County Tuesday night and into Wednesday.

Steven Van Horn, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Spokane, said a wind gust of 51 mph was reported at about 5 a.m. in Moses Lake.

“This was a strong cold front. Very strong,” Van Horn said.

Grant County PUD public information officer Christine Pratt said the winds caused some problems for the PUD, but less trouble than it could have.

“It was a relatively normal storm, according to our dispatchers,” Pratt said. “We had fewer outages than we normally would have expected, with the rain coupled with the wind. Our crews were stretched, but worked as quickly and as safely as possible to restore power.”

The electrical problems actually started during the rainstorm Tuesday afternoon. Pole fires interrupted service to some customers at about 4 p.m., Pratt said.

Reports of wind-caused outages began coming in at about 9 p.m., continuing throughout the night and into Wednesday morning. The PUD’s dispatch center received about 45 “trouble reports” during that time.

“Outages were scattered and not large. Approximately 300 PUD customers were without power at times during the storm,” Pratt wrote. “Four line crews were out most of the night.”

The wind partially toppled a pole on Road U Northeast, and PUD crews saw people driving under it, Pratt said. Unfortunately, a fallen power pole, or even a partially fallen pole, can charge the ground around it with electricity, sometimes enough to injure or kill. People should give downed, or partially-downed, lines a “wide berth,” and report them, Pratt said.

Utility district crews also replaced a pole broken by the storm near the Pelican Horn substation south of Moses Lake. Electricity was out to customers in the area for three to four hours.

A cold front brings with it strong winds aloft, which mix with winds at the surface, which cause gusty conditions, Van Horn said.

A cold front does indeed mean cold air, and temperatures started dropping into the high 20s last night. Lows are expected to be in the high 20s or low 30s the next few days, with highs in the low to mid-40s.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached at