When Mother Nature skips a step, you have to keep up!
Dealing with the weather, and the extreme environmental events that weather can create, is a constant challenge for our line crews, especially this time of year. By the end of July 2021, we had already experienced 37 days over 90 degrees. This year we have seen less than half that number, but what 2022 brought us instead was rain, which can present a whole different set of problems when delivered in large amounts, as it was this spring.
“Water is a very powerful force. When the rivers and creeks are flooding, they will go where they want to go,” notes Jeff Murphy, Columbia REA Operations Manager.
“During a normal season we can normally get out into the fields, but with the excessive rain this year it made our work more challenging accessing sites and digging as the construction season ramped up.”
Construction season usually starts when the wet weather clears and the temperatures are mild. In other words, Spring. But Mother Nature threw another change-up at us when she decided to turn off the water and turn up the heat, seemingly overnight. All the rain did help our existing drought conditions, but it also allowed wild grasses and other fire fuels to enjoy a longer growing season, which may delay the fire season a little bit, but it doesn’t take long for the ground to dry out and create hazardous wildfire conditions, even on the heels of a soggy spring. In fact, the first National Weather Service Fire Weather Warning was issued for our area in mid-July.
Thankfully, the wet, cool weather this year did not affect our fire mitigation efforts. So far, all of our fire mitigation work has been completed on schedule. This work includes tree-trimming and brush clearing around poles and applying pole wraps.
“We have put into place pole wraps on over 500 poles on the system this year. This pole wrap reacts to the heat of a fire and swells up to protect the wood should a fire come in contact with the structure,” adds Jeff.
“Our plan is to inspect and trim the entire system on a 3-year cycle. In addition to our normal trim cycle, we have been working extra hard in 2021 and 2022 to get additional pole right-of-ways cleaned up from overgrown power line paths and trees that have grown dangerously close to lines.”
And we can always use a hand from our members, as well! If you see a tree that has been damaged or is too close to the power lines, let us know and we will send someone out to inspect it. If you are planning on doing your own tree trimming and find that you have trees or shrubs that are near a power line, give us a call and we can help you out.