Utility crews gear up for potentially dangerous storms

Utility crews gear up for potentially dangerous storms
Published: Jul. 19, 2018 at 10:44 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2018 at 4:31 AM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - The threat of strong storms and potential power outages has local utility companies keeping a close eye on the forecast.

Officials are stressing the simple steps you can take to be informed.

All types of severe weather will be possible Friday into early Saturday morning. The biggest threat will be damaging wind gusts over 60 mph. The strongest winds will occur on the leading edge as a line of thunderstorms passes through the Tennessee Valley.

Damaging straight line winds will be capable of bringing down trees and power lines. Prepare for travel impacts as well as power outages overnight Friday. Heavy rain is likely in a very short period of time so flash flooding will be possible as well. Other storm threats include hail over 1" in diameter and isolated tornadoes.

The Storm Prediction Center has upgraded the risk level across northwest Alabama and southern middle Tennessee to ENHANCED, which is risk category 3 out of 5.

Damaging winds, large hail, and a few tornadoes will be possible. We encourage you to be prepared, not scared!

Scattered storms will be possible Friday after lunchtime, but the main concern for severe storms will start Friday after 5PM. Storms will move from north to south through the viewing area with storms possible overnight, making it especially important that you have two ways to receive severe weather warnings while you are asleep.

Both Huntsville and Decatur Utilities say the best advice is to steer clear of downed power lines and damaged utility equipment and to call your service provider if you see damage or have a problem.

"Strong winds can result in trees getting in the lines and bringing lines down. We really encourage people if they see a downed power line, stay away from it. You can't tell if that line is still energized or not by looking at it so it's important that you stay away from that. Call our dispatch number and let us know that you've seen that line down and we'll send crews out to get it put back up," said Joe Holmes with Decatur Utilities.

They are making sure trucks and crews are ready to roll should any outages occur, keeping in touch with Emergency Management officials as they get updates from the National Weather Service.

"We have trucks ready to roll. We have crews either in office or on standby over the weekend so we're ready to roll if things start happening," Holmes added.

Residents are asked to report any power outages or other utility service emergencies so that those issues can be entered into the system and quickly addressed.

DU customers can report any power outages or other utility service interruptions/emergencies by calling 256-552-1400 and following the system prompts.

"Those outages are automatically entered into our outage management system so dispatchers become aware of it and know where to send crews, know where the likely the cause of the problem is. When people see what we call a utility emergency like that, a natural gas main break or a utility line down, that's something we need to know so we can get crews out quickly to get that put back up," Holmes explained.

Decatur and Huntsville Utilities will be posting social media updates.

They encourage customers to follow up on Facebook and Twitter to get the latest on outage restoration – as well as tune to local media outlets.

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