As Winter Nor’easter Approaches, O&R Declares a Storm Watch

O&R declared a Storm Watch today as a winter nor’easter, packing heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain, high winds and frigid temperatures, is expected to wallop the region Saturday night through the long weekend.

Storm activity, particularly the high winds, heavy snow and freezing rain predicted for Saturday night’s nor’easter, has the potential to cause power line damage and electric service interruptions. O&R crews will be ready to respond to those events.

Company and contractor overhead line crews and tree removal crews are ramping up for a high-volume outage response to the storm, as are damage assessment, site safety, customer service operations and the wide array of O&R teams that support those functions.

In addition to its company crews, O&R has hired 200 additional overhead line technicians to supplement its own field forces to repair damage and restore service interruptions resulting from this event.

Weather forecasters expect O&R’s service area to get 6 – 12 inches or more of heavy, wet snow with as much as 20 inches in higher northern elevations. On Sunday, snow is expected to change to a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain, and then change back to snow in some areas.

Winds are expected to blow 5-15 mph, gusting to 30 mph on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Strong northwest winds, with gusts of 40 mph, and bitterly cold temperatures are expected Sunday afternoon into early Monday morning. Wind chill values Monday morning could be as low as 20 degrees below zero.

Due to the uncertainty about the precipitation amounts, and type and timing of the change from wet snow to freezing rain, the impact of the event could be much greater than the current estimates imply.

To prepare for the severe weather, O&R electric and gas crews are securing active work sites today to prevent wind and water damage from the predicted storm.

To help its customers prepare to weather a storm, O&R offers these tips:

  • For safety’s sake, don’t touch or approach any downed wire. Assume it is energized and dangerous. Call O&R immediately toll-free 1-877-434-4100. Depending on the situation, you may also want to call your local police to divert traffic until an O&R crew arrives.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 50 feet from downed wires and anything they are in contact with including puddles of water and fences. Supervise your children so that they are not in the vicinity and keep pets on a leash or otherwise secure.
  • If a fallen wire is draped over a car, do not approach the car and make rescue attempts. Remain a safe distance away, and try to keep the occupant of the vehicle calm. If possible, emergency personnel should handle the situation.
  • Pole-top transformers --- those small grey-colored metal drums attached to the wires at the tops of most utility poles --- also should be avoided when they have been knocked to the ground.
  • Portable generators pose a serious hazard if used improperly. They should be used and installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. A wrong connection could feed electricity back through the lines and endanger our repair crews. Never plug a generator into a wall unit, use it indoors or set it up outdoors near open home windows or air-handling vents.
  • When temperatures dip and you’re without power, don’t use a natural-gas-powered oven or range to heat a room, and do not use a charcoal grill inside your home. Doing so could create either a fire hazard or a life-threatening exposure to carbon monoxide gas.
  • Have emergency equipment within reach --- portable radio, flashlights, spare batteries, first aid kit, cell phone and important medications. Keep O&R’s toll-free number 1-877-434-4100 near the phone to report power outages.
  • If you experience a power outage, don’t assume that O&R automatically knows about it or that someone else will report it. To be sure the outage is reported, please call O&R toll-free at 1-877-434-4100 to let O&R know what happened. The more information you can provide, the more O&R can help you.
  • Remember: if the base station of your cordless phone plugs into the wall, your phone will be unusable during a power outage.

There are several ways customers can report outages and check service restoration status:

  • Go to the O&R website from any computer or web-enabled mobile device;
  • Use the O&R mobile app from your iPhone, iPad or Android device;
  • Text “OUT” to 69678 (myORU); or
  • Call Customer Assistance at 1-877-434-4100

The following video describes the typical storm repair and power restoration process:

Orange and Rockland Utilities, Inc. (O&R) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Consolidated Edison, Inc., one of the nation’s largest investor-owned energy companies. O&R is a regulated utility. It provides electric service to approximately 300,000 customers in southeastern New York State (where its franchise name is Orange & Rockland) and northern New Jersey (where it is Rockland Electric Company) and natural gas service to approximately 130,000 customers in New York.

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