MILWAUKEE – Hundreds of thousands of people dealt with power outages due to the winter storm that slammed into Southeastern Wisconsin starting on Friday, January 12, and extending into the weekend. While nearly all outages have been restored, it has been a tall task for We Energies crews across the state.
We Energies media relations manager Brendan Conway joined Wisconsin’s Afternoon News Monday to provide an update on the situation. Conway said that while the numbers aren’t fully gathered yet, the storm was one for the record books.
“This will be if not the biggest restoration effort, one of the biggest,” Conway said.
By Saturday morning, We Energies reported that 100,000 customers were without power and that overall, they’ve restored power to over 250,000. Conway said that this particular storm was different from the usual storm pattern they see, where the weather event wraps up and utility crews are able to restore power after the storm has passed.
“What we saw here was this slow-moving event where we saw outages build,” Conway said. “From Friday afternoon almost all the way through Saturday night, that heavy wet snow continued to cause problems, and the wind taking down trees and taking down branches and that was impacting our power lines.”
That created major problems for the We Energies crews out in the field, who were also dealing with the snow making road conditions nearly impassable in some areas.
“It was a yo-yo. We’d restore power to 20,000 people, 10,000 people would come back in. We’d restore power to 8,000 people, 15,000 people would come out of power,” Conway said. “It really took a while for it to level off a bit, that kind of happened yesterday, and then the really cold air came in.”
A Winter Chill Advisory is in effect for all of Southeast Wisconsin until 9 a.m. on Wednesday, but Conway said crews will take the cold rather than dealing with the snowstorm.
“Yes the cold is not ideal, but they can step away, they can warm up, and they can go back out there,” Conway said.