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Subject:   City Light Watching the Weather
For Immediate Release:   
1/6/2005  10:00:00 AM
For More Information Contact:
Scott Thomsen  (206) 386-4233

City Light Watching the Weather

SEATTLE- Seattle City Light is preparing for potentially severe winter weather that the region may experience in the week ahead.

The utility's system control center, which monitors the electrical system and dispatches crews to outages, watches weather forecasts very carefully and alerts the City Light service centers and customer service office if storms are predicted. Crew chiefs are put on alert, review emergency procedures, and double-check the lines of communication between field crews and the control center. When a storm is imminent, crews ending their shifts make sure that trucks are stocked and ready to go for the next shift.

Winter weather presents a good news/bad news situation for City Light.

Winter storms in Seattle cause outages, tax line crews, damage the system and cost money. But in City Light's hydroelectric watersheds in the mountains, snowstorms are welcome. The snow pack at the Skagit is just 40 percent of normal so far, which does not bode well for selling surplus power in the spring and early summer. Surplus sales generate revenue for City Light and help keep rates stable.

Heavy rains and relatively warm temperatures in the first 10 days of December diminished the early snow pack. That snowmelt raised Ross Reservoir - City Light's main hydro storage facility - to above-normal levels. By December 30th, the Ross reservoir elevation was at 1586.4 feet. So while this year's snow pack is comparable to the extreme drought year of 2001, the elevation of Ross is more than 28 feet higher than it was in January 2001.

CITY LIGHT POWER OUTAGE TIPS:
  • Be prepared beforehand with a power outage kit, with flashlight with fresh batteries, lantern, matches, wind up clock portable radio, manual can opener, blankets. Know how to manually override your garage door opener.
  • Customers on life-sustaining equipment using electricity should have emergency power back-up in good working order and know how it operates. Call City Light at (206) 706-0051 to let the utility know if you or someone in your household is using life-support equipment.
  • During an outage, call the power outage hotline at 684-7400 for a recording of all known outages. If your area not mentioned, stay on the line and report it using your name, address, and phone number. Remember that cordless phones will not work in a power outage.
  • Unplug electrical appliances but leave one or two lights on to let you know when service is restored.
  • Dress in layers. Close doors, windows, curtains and unused fireplace dampers to retain heat in your home.
  • Flashlights are safer than candles.
  • Never use gas or charcoal grills designed for outdoor use indoors or in an unventilated space.
  • Generators should be used only in well-ventilated areas. Never plug them into home circuitry.
  • Use hot water sparingly, and keep refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible.
  • When power is restored, turn on electrical appliances gradually. Sudden heavy electricity demand can damage the electrical system and extend the outage.
  • Remember - Never touch or approach a downed wire or anything in contact with one. Always assume the wire is live and stay 10 feet away, including anything that you may be holding. Do not remove items caught in power lines.
  • Report downed lines during business hours by calling (206) 684-3000. After hours, call (206) 706-0051.
Seattle City Light's Power Outages and Electrical Safety Tips brochure is available in public buildings and online at www.seattle.gov/light.

 

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