Archive for Thursday, June 7, 2007

Power outage caused by winds

June 7, 2007


Strong winds keep emergency crews busy

Today's strong wind gusts kept Lawrence fire-fighters and Westar officials hopping. Enlarge video

Strong southerly winds caused at least 2,500 Douglas County residents to lose electricity Wednesday afternoon.

A majority of the power outage was in central Lawrence, where traffic lights were out on some stretches of Ninth and Sixth streets east of Iowa Street.

The traffic signals went blank for several minutes, snagging already heavy traffic about 5 p.m.

"They went out just for a short while," Lawrence police Sgt. Mark Warren said. "A few minutes."

By 6:30 p.m., traffic lights were running and all but three Lawrence residences had power.

Douglas County emergency dispatchers were briefly without their main power Wednesday afternoon, according to a dispatcher.

Erin Dehn, spokeswoman for Westar Energy, said wind contributed to power outages across the state.

"Probably one of the biggest (causes of outages) is tree branches blow into the power lines, and that can cause outages," she said. "Some of the winds, being as strong as they are, they can knock around the wires and cause outages."

Lawrence was under a wind advisory from the National Weather Service most of the afternoon and evening with sustained winds between 30 and 35 miles per hour and some gusts exceeding 40 mph.


Ragingbear 11 years ago

UPS- Uninterruptable Power Supply. It's a big box that sits on your floor, you plug your computer and such into it, and it will automatically and immediately take over so you don't lose whatever computer thing you were working on.

You can get them fairly cheap at places like Office Depot. I got one that provides 8 minutes of power to my system. This is good for little flickers, and in the case of full blowouts, I got enough time to save and turn off my computer. They start at $60 and go up from there. The sky is pretty much the limit on what they can do. I have actually seen $10k pricetags on large server system power backups online.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

The Jew thing was in regards to a letter I saw a few months ago where somebody that played World of Warcraft compared being pelted by in-game snowballs (which did absolutely nothing to you) to being a Jew in the Holocaust .I found the third world power company comment to be just about as asinine.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

Come off it West Star! The power went out BEFORE the wind actually started. We aren't that stupid. It goes out constantly. It may rain next week? POWER OUTAGE!

How about the little micro-brownouts you love to give us in the middle of the night. You know, the ones that cause our bedside clocks to reset. So we wake up at 9:00 am to a blinking clock, and then remember that we had an important appointment at 7:00.

Sigmund 11 years ago

Ragingbeer, Jews in the Holocaust? Missing the bus? Time to adjust your meds again I think....

Staci Dark Simpson 11 years ago

My power went off this AM. Was off 3 hours. Was getting a little nervous about my aquarium. My angelfish, Fluffy, wasn't real happy either.

gr 11 years ago

"The traffic signals went blank for several minutes,"

Shouldn't traffic signals be on a backup power supply? Every time electricity goes out for 10 minutes that means traffic is going to be confused?

Griblit 11 years ago

I was guided by police officers at traffic signals on 6th from downtown to Wakarusa- both ways, so for at least an hour- while picking up my kids at lunchtime. We also lost power at work briefly, though it was off for part of the weekend- long before the winds...full disclosure does more for public confidence than frosting...

Ragingbear 11 years ago

We just have a really crappy power company full of corrupt people skimming off the top, and passing the fines and legal fees to us.

Linda Endicott 11 years ago

Didn't lose power yesterday, but the cable went out for awhile. I figured it was because of the wind.

Around here, they save the power outages for all those nice, calm, sunny days.

RKLOG 11 years ago

Ok, what is a UPS? I want one of those.

reginafliangie 11 years ago

Unless you have a clock radio from the 70's, the ones for sale today have a place to put batteries so that if your electricity goes off your clock keeps right on going and you have no issues with blinking times and being late for anything. Also on the traffic signals, if you have all red, all red flashing or blank lights you treat it as a 4 way stop.

Kevin Sontag 11 years ago

Thats a really good point. Why don't traffic signals have a battery backup? Seems like a good idea to me. Might save lives during an outage.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

They do have an auxiliary backup. But the city refuses to turn them on unless the blackout is expected to be several hours. Even then they won't if it's after hours.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

Hey. It's not my fault that life sucks and people are stupid. I would contribute to a charity that wants to forcibly sterilize idiots like those that run Weststar, but none exist as of yet.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

Well, there are some methods available, but costly. Setting up a mini-windmill or extensive solar paneling is a partial alternative. However, a typical household does not have the roof surface area sufficent enough to provide full power to a home. I would like to add though that a family of 4 could find themselves with $4 electric bills.

Solar panels are expensive though. Don't forget that you would need a small shed filled with batteries that will probably have to be replaced every 5-7 years. You would also need to make sure that the shed stayed warm enough so that the cold would not drain the power from them. It's not an easy or inexpensive venture. But it will pay for itself within a few years.

RKLOG 11 years ago

Though some of us might be over reacting, I can say that I've felt exactly the same way many times because of freak "sunny day" power outages. Electricity is expensive and it can really pss off a person who falls victim to these outages. Maybe Westar can behave more like a customer oriented business and give out coupons, rebates, or even an apology once in a while as an acknowledgment to those of us who lose computer documents, are late for work, etc. because of their faux pas. I always try to apologize when I pss off a customer.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

I have lived in many different areas. Even in intense storms, I have seen power companies keep power on at times. Well, except for that one that had a brownout so they cut off the hospital's power. That was just stupid.

Weststar is by far the worst when it comes to random power outages. Not only that, but my computer is hooked up to a battery backup that monitors the electric flow. I commonly get under and over-voltages popping up on my computer. I often consider myself lucky if a new lightbulb will last me more than 2 months because of it. It is a horrid service, overpriced and we already know how corrupt they are.

And what is with the $9 "fuel charge"? I live in an apartment complex where there are roughly 80 different meters in a shed. Even if the guy had to drive 25 miles to and from the station, you would think that 2 meter's worth of charges would cover it. Yet we are all seeing gigantic fuel charges that we can't argue with because its' a service fee and not an actual fee for our electric use.

Think about that. There are 80 meters here, $9 for each of them. That would be $720 for gas just to come to my apartment complex. What the heck are they driving? A hummer that is 5000ft long? Figure in that there are complexes even larger than mine, and that the largest drive between house 1 on a block and house 2 on a block if only a few hundred yards, we can see that we are seeing Lawrence itself paying out a total of $90,000 a month just for gas! That would be enough to pay for their entire fleet's gas usage for a year.

gr 11 years ago

That's someone the Deans should sue - the city for making it unsafe for having the traffic signals operate during a power outage!

"I would like to add though that a family of 4 could find themselves with $4 electric bills."

So, Ragingbear, what would their real electric bill costs be. Which would include the solar cell life expectancy and battery replacement amortized over their life? Also, rather than a total bill for unknown amount of usage, how about price per kilowatt?

Or is that what you mean - $4/kilowatt?

Sigmund 11 years ago

While jousting at windmills may be fine for Ragingbeer, i am considering filing a breach of contact action. I also will be contacting CURB. Over the last 24 months my power has been out 24 separate times. I may not succeed but at least it is something. The power in Lawrence is like living in a third world nation.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

Sigmund, don't compare things to something you know nothing about. Do not compare missing the bus to being a Jew in the Holocaust, and don't compare our power company to a third world nation. All that serves is to make people believe that your an idiot.

compmd 11 years ago

Anything that needs to stay on in my apartment stays on thanks to a nice big UPS that I plug important stuff into. It kindly informs me when the power goes out, and when it comes back, and beeps to let me know its working. The neighbors get a little annoyed when I have lights, computers, and Internet access and they don't when there is a power failure though...

Sigmund 11 years ago

Absolutely you can, it is expensive but you can do that. I am going to call CURB next week and talk with a staff attorney. I'll be happy to let you know what I find out RB.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

Regina, my clock is 6 months old, and has no battery compartment. I don't know what you are talking about with red lights. When power goes out, they all go out. They don't just all turn red. At least not in this world.

feeble 11 years ago

You don't have to travel far to see examples of malicious or reprehensible behavior in the part of energy and utility companies.

My two "favorites" are the Aquila/Cass County debacle ( and the Taum Sauk incident ( and (

I'm not saying that Westar is any better or worse, I'm just commenting that there is a lot of shady stuff going on in this part of the country in regards to energy and utility companies.

Eric Neuteboom 11 years ago

Maybe you should get outside Raging, you know, smell some flowers, get some sun, enjoy the day...

Sigmund 11 years ago

Oh for those that do not know CURB They have been very effective in the past, been non-political and are run on a shoe string budget. They are amazingly effective but have to prioritize towards issues impacting large numbers of rate payers. The more they hear on Lawrence's issues the more they can justify spending resources there.

BTW, RB experiences matched mine in that my first of four outages the other day happened long before the winds picked up. If I am not mistaken, the City of Lawrence is supposed to do much of the tree trimming to keep limbs out of the power lines.

Sigmund 11 years ago

My UPS's chirp at me all the time about spikes and dips in power. Even when the electric power is available the quality of the power in Lawrence is just terrible. The electrics in my house take hits daily and l bought GE stock just to try and recoup all the money I spend on light bulbs. I have digital shortwave receiver with batteries and a/c adapter that gets hit so hard it has to be unplugged, the batteries removed, and then inserted reversed for couple of seconds to reset the tuner and clock! Honestly, I think a class action lawsuit for breach of contract has merit and as I am also a shareholder of Westar, I'm thinking of brining a derivative lawsuit against the B.O.D. for breach of their fiduciary duty.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

Sigmund, I would be more than willing to sign up on such a class action lawsuit as well.

RKLOG 11 years ago

These spikes worry me. Is it true that they can harm other equipment like TVs VCRs and such? And can you plug them into a UPC? Thanks.

Ragingbear 11 years ago

Most of the time, the winds don't snap any power lines or cause any branches to fall and produce a short that would cause a power outage. Frankly, I don't see any reason for us losing our power as constantly as we do. Thunderstorms and high winds are one thing. But these blackouts we get during calm weather is getting old.

As for the power spikes, they will damage almost everything in your house. I keep everything worth more than $5 hooked up to a decent surge protector. UPS systems are better, as they can account for the fluctuations that are actually responsible for a lot of the damage we get. Unfortunately, they are expensive.

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