Recent foggy conditions have caused problems in some areas of Southern Manitoba more than others.

It's something that Manitoba Hydro has to keep an eye on every year.

The Notre Dame, Somerset, Baldur area has recently been plagued with hydro lines weighed down by ice, swinging in the wind. Those lines are now recovering daily, but Manitoba Hydro Media Relations Officer Bruce Owen says you only have to look back a few years when Portage la Prairie lost power for several days. 

"It's important to remember that October 2019 was almost a unique weather event in that it happened on the Thanksgiving weekend. We had a tremendous amount of wet snow, not only in Winnipeg but in the large part of south and southwestern Manitoba," says Owen. "We still had a lot of leaves on the trees. That's what caused us the grief -- that combination of thick, wet snow -- a large amount of it. It was not only clinging to leaves, but that weight of that snow on the trees snapped those branches on top of power lines in the open areas."

He notes this made the thick, wet snow clog the roads, as well as cling to power lines and poles.

"This year -- and this is something we go through almost every year, sometimes early in the winter -- it's that mixture and that fog that freezes and turns everything beautiful. There are no leaves on the trees. People are out taking pictures of this lovely frost, but it causes us grief year after year after year," says Owen. "If we left it alone, the danger or the risk is, if we get any wind, especially in those open areas of the Prairies, that thickness of ice or hoar frost on the lines makes them droop."

Hydro lines near Somerset

Hydro lines near Somerset

 

Owen says this causes the wind to blow lines bringing stress on them.

"That also puts stress on the poles, and that's where you have the poles snapping and breaking, causing widespread outages," continues Owen. "This time, again, it's more normal. We deal with it a couple of times each winter. We always have a standard practice of going out and rolling it. We have people in vehicles and guys climbing up poles and rolling that ice off the lines where we can. In other areas we do ice-melts. That's through our system control. Picture a hot element on your stove, and it turns red. It's almost like that, but not quite. We heat it up by causing a short circuit in the line, and that heat in the line melts that snow, and it just drops safely to the ground, and we're good to go."