'It's one of the biggest threats': Utility company braces for central Kentucky ice storm

Posted at 12:37 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 19:39:36-05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Should this incoming ice storm over central Kentucky create the same kind of devastation we saw with similar storms in 2003 and 2009, Kentucky Utilities is ready for the challenge.

“Certainly we have to give each weather event its respect and plan accordingly, but there are certain things we learned from ice storms over the last decade that have helped to improve our business,” said Natasha Collins with KU.

Among the improvements, Collins noted that power outages have decreased in their frequency and duration by about 20% in recent years.

An ice storm becomes much more difficult to manage for power companies and road crews than most every other weather event. Not only can it not be moved off the roads like snow, but accumulating ice can get extremely heavy.

“It has the potential to weigh down tree limbs. Those limbs can sag into power lines, or can fall off completely and take power lines with them,” Collins said.

Vegetation management is critical in that regard. Trimming trees that reach above power lines is an ongoing and year-round process. If that’s been done sufficiently, the power lines can withstand the weight of ice.

But because the loss of power can come at any time, KU recommends keeping an emergency kit handy, stocked with flashlights, medication, charged batteries and other essentials. Make sure all of your windows and doors aren’t allowing cold air in, and hot air out. And be careful when using space heaters, or wood-burning fires. Those should not be relied upon to heat your home once everyone goes to sleep.

Collins also wants KU customers to know that they can and should reach out as soon as power is lost.

“A lot of time people think we know about their outage and that’s not the case,” she said. “You have to report your outage.”

Collins is hoping prior experiences lead to fewer reports this time around.