As the sleet and snow turned to freezing rain Friday afternoon, it began to pull down tree limbs and utility lines, cutting power to thousands of homes and businesses in the Triangle.
More than 15,000 power outages were reported around the Triangle as of 4:30 p.m. Friday, according to Duke Energy. The hardest hit places were Johnston County, with 4,500 customers out, and Wake, where about 11,400 reported they were without power. The largest numbers of reported outages were in Garner and Southeast Raleigh.
A little more than an hour later and those numbers nearly tripled. By 5:45 p.m., more than 42,000 were reporting power outages. And by 7 p.m., that number had climbed to more than 50,000 homes without power.
“Trees down on power lines, that’s a pretty easy fix,” said Duke Energy spokeswoman Paige Sheehan. “Some of the other outages are a little more difficult, such as power lines that are down.”
She said the time it will take to fix the outages depends on the damage.
There were far fewer outages in the western Triangle, where sleet and snow has not turned to freezing rain. As of 4:30 p.m., only one outage was reported in all of Durham County.
Duke Energy dispatched nearly 7,000 workers, some as far as Michigan to address the outages in the North Carolina and South Carolina. Statewide, there were more than 48,000 reported outages.
North Carolina Electric Cooperatives is also reported thousands of outages around the state. There were 16,500 outages at 4:30 p.m., most occurring in the Sandhills region, along the I-95 corridor and near the South Carolina border, according to a press release by the company.
“Crews from affected cooperatives are responding to outages as quickly as possible,” the press release states. “Crews from cooperatives without current damage remain poised in case outages occur.”
North Carolina’s electric cooperatives offer the following safety tips:
▪ Never approach or touch a downed power line. They can remain energized and pose a serious hazard.
▪ If you plan to use a portable generator, be sure the generator is located outside your house for proper ventilation. Do not use a generator in an attached garage. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for operating the generator.