OPALCO crews brave bone-chilling conditions to restore power

Raise a toast to these guys ... OPALCO crews braved bone-chilling weather to seek out outages and restore power over the past 48 hours.  - Contributed photo
Raise a toast to these guys ... OPALCO crews braved bone-chilling weather to seek out outages and restore power over the past 48 hours.
— image credit: Contributed photo

With bone-chilling winds gusting up to 40 mph and temperatures plunging into the teens, Orcas Power and Light linemen worked through the night and into the pre-dawn hours Nov. 23 to track down and restore multiple power outages across the county.

The first outages began Nov. 22 at 4 p.m., as heavy gusts of wind blew tree branches onto power lines in the Olga area of Orcas Island, and on Beverly Lane on Lopez Island. Line crews had power restored by 5 p.m.

At 5 p.m., a tree limb fell onto a transmission line on Shaw Island, knocking out power for all of Shaw and the west side of Orcas Island.

OPALCO crews from Lopez and Orcas scurried to Shaw and had power mostly restored by 7 p.m. Four hours later, crews were back on Shaw after another tree fell onto another transmission line at about 11 p.m. Power was restored by by 1:30 a.m.

Crews were still responding to isolated outages early Nov. 23.

On San Juan Island, a branch wedged in a transmission line knocked power out on Mitchell Bay Road at about 6 p.m. After power was restored there, crews hustled to the other end of the island, where a fallen tree limb caused a power outage at the U.W. Friday Harbor Labs.

Also on San Juan, cold temperatures and strong winds blowing against the Cannery Village Condos caused a transformer near the ferry landing to overload (with the extraordinary heating load).

OPALCO's linemen changed out the transformer and then headed west to Beaverton Valley Road, where a fallen limb had caused another outage. Isolated outages kept line crews busy until about 5:30 a.m. Nov. 23.

What should you do when your power goes out?
— Before calling OPALCO, look to see if your neighbors have power and, if so, check your breakers.

— To report a power outage, call 376-3599. Phone messages are updated regularly and calls are routed to the Sheriff’s Dispatch Center after hours.

— Check OPALCO’s website ( for up-to-dated information on outages (if you can’t get online, call a friend with power to check it for you); follow OPALCO on Twitter @orcaspower for updates on your mobile devices.

— In case of a prolonged power outage, unplug appliances, electronics and computer equipment, leaving one light on to let you know when power has been restored. This helps to protect your equipment and lessens the load on the system when the power restarts, helping to restore power more quickly and safely.

To prepare for winter outages:
— Make sure you have surge protectors installed on all sensitive equipment and appliances; keep flashlights in a handy place with fresh batteries and assemble a box of supplies to meet your household’s needs.

For a complete list of outage preparation and safety recommendations, visit

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