Ice. A Weighty Subject.
Winter brings snow and outdoor fun, but ice is no reindeer game.
Ice can affect power lines by the weight of the ice, tree branches breaking and falling onto the line or wind causing the lines to gallop.
Ice is heavy and can cause power lines to sag and snap. Half an inch of ice can add up to as much as 500 pounds of weight to a power line. The added weight of ice on poles can quickly lead to broken power poles and other pole equipment.
Melting ice can also cause issues. If ice on the bottom (neutral) line melts before the lines above, it can cause the lines to touch, leading to an outage.
Ice can increase branch weight by up to three times, making them much more likely to sag or break onto power lines. Trace accumulations up to roughly half an inch can cause small branches and already weak limbs to break.
One of the main issues with ice forming on power lines is that it freezes in a teardrop shape. Why is this an issue? The wind. When strong winds hit the lines, that teardrop shape causes the line to become less aerodynamic causing it to jump around in the air. This is called a “gallop.”