High Winds Knock Out Power

Deer Island, OR – September 10, 2020 – High winds in Columbia County knocked out power to Columbia River PUD customers in Scappoose, St. Helens, and Rainier September 7-8.

Because of a severe fire threat, the PUD implemented fire mitigation measures in some areas. Those measures led to longer outage restoration times.

Under normal circumstances, when a branch falls on a power line, the power is disrupted momentarily and then attempts to come back on. Typically, when a branch brushes a line and falls off, power will blink off and then quickly return to normal.

To decrease the risk of a fallen branch causing a spark that might ignite a fire, the PUD modified its electric system so that any time a branch fell onto a line, power would automatically be turned off.

Once the National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning, the PUD implemented these measures in select areas throughout its service territory, primarily forested residential areas. The PUD plans to return to normal operations after the Red Flag Warning has been lifted.

For customers, this meant longer power outages. Before restoring power, line crews first had to fix or remove the problem. Then they had to patrol the affected overhead power lines to make sure they were clear of additional branches or debris before they could re-energize them.

Nine individual areas were affected. Total, approximately 1,800 customers were affected. Most outages lasted approximately two hours. Customers in the Dutch Canyon area of Scappoose and in the Elk Meadows area of St. Helens experienced longer-lasting outages.

The PUD would like to remind customers to always stay away from downed power lines and power poles. If you lose power, please report it to the PUD by calling (503) 397-1844.