Winter storm forecast to hit portions of AEP Ohio’s service territory

GAHANNA, Ohio, January 27, 2009 – AEP Ohio is prepared to respond to any damage resulting from the severe winter storm forecast to move across southern and southeastern Ohio beginning early this afternoon. Ice accumulations up to ½ inch followed by heavy snow accumulations are forecast for areas in the storm’s path.

AEP Ohio’s damage assessors have been mobilized and will report to staging areas in the company’s service territories located in the storm’s predicted path.  AEP Ohio line mechanics, contract line workers and tree workers are ready to begin work after the storm has passed.

”Based on the current forecast, we are expecting extensive damage due to ice accumulation in some areas of our Athens, Chillicothe, Newark and Ohio Valley districts,” said Joe Hamrock, president and chief operating officer AEP Ohio. “Ice can create accumulation damage to our electric facilities. Its weight brings down trees and power lines. In fact, a one-inch accumulation of ice is equivalent to an average of 3,600 pounds of weight on one mile of an overhead distribution line.”

”The forecast suggests significant ice accumulations in Chillicothe, Lancaster, Zanesville, Cambridge and areas just north of Athens,” Hamrock said. “If this transpires, we anticipate damage to result in a multi-day restoration effort. In addition, 5 to 8 inches of snow is forecast for these same areas immediately after the ice passes through. Such snow accumulations on top of ice will create additional hazards and further hamper restoration efforts. Heavy snow is the prediction for the Columbus area, but between ¼ and ½ inch of ice is possible in the southeastern portion of the Columbus District.”
AEP Ohio is advising customers to be prepared in the event of an extended power outage depending on how the storm affects their areas. Customers should consider taking action now to protect themselves and their families, including arranging for alternate shelter should the need arise.
So what should customers do?
First, let AEP Ohio know if there is a power outage. Customers should call the company’s toll-free number at 1-800-277-2177. During times of high call volume callers may hear a recorded message. Even if a customer does not speak with a Customer Solutions Center representative, the customer can leave an electronic or recorded voice message about the outage.
Customers can report an outage online at www.aepohio.com. If there is a widespread power outage, AEP Ohio posts information about restoration efforts on www.aepohio.com.

Following are a few tips for coping with outages:

  • Never touch a downed wire. Always treat this situation as dangerous. Report this condition to 911 or AEP by phone or online as soon as possible.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with flashlight(s), battery-powered lamp and fresh batteries; battery-powered radio or television; water for drinking and cooking; instructions for manually opening power-operated garage doors; and manual can opener.
  • Do not open freezer door. This will keep foods frozen longer. Minimize opening refrigerator doors as well.
  • Disconnect (trip breaker in your electrical panel) major heating and cooling equipment circuits. In fact, leave just one or two lights switched “on” to let you know when power is restored. Once power is restored, turn on appliances gradually. Electric utilities can have problems with what is called “cold load pick-up” following outages as customer demand surges when service is restored.
  • If the temperatures dip below freezing and the power outage is projected to last overnight or longer, consider moving to a shelter or in with friends or relatives who do have electricity. Please check on family, friends and neighbors who are elderly or may live alone.
  • If you leave your house, protect your water pipes from freezing by turning the water off at the main shutoff valve and opening faucets to drain the water.

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