Cold Weather Causes Power Outage

By KBJR News 1

January 4, 2011 Updated Jan 4, 2011 at 7:27 PM CDT

Nashwauk, MN (Northland's NewsCetner) - Residents in several communities were without power during the morning hours, and for some into the afternoon, after a power line went down north of Nashwauk.

It was not something Dale Evans expected when he got home Monday morning.

"Maybe about 10 minutes after I got all the kids to school, our power went out at home," said Evans, a resident of Keetwain.

Officials with Lake Country Power say a line just north of Nashwauk had a splice, or connector, come apart.

"In the winter, as it gets colder the conductor tightens up and puts more tension on the wire and things can come apart," said Lake Country Power system engineer Rick Seeling.

Residents in the Nashwauk, Crooked Lake, and Keewatin areas were affected by the outage; some residents to the north of Nashwauk say they were without power for nearly four hours.

Officials say its rare cold weather causes outages during the winter months and it's usually ice storms and wind that can cause the most damage.

"The biggest problems we see in the winter months are trees that fall or get knocked onto the lines by those high winds or by that ice," said Amy Rutledge with Minnesota Power.

Both Lake Country Power and Minnesota Power say maintenance such as clearing near–by branches of snow and ice during the winter can minimize the chance of an outage due to the elements.

Minnesota Power owns the line affected by the cold temperatures and says while nature can take its toll on the lines, so can increased usage during the winter months.

"More people are trying to heat their homes; stay warm in the winter. That can cause a line to over–load and thus trip and thus causing an outage," said Rutledge.

Both Lake Country Power and Minnesota Power say their systems are made to withstand harsh winter conditions.