Power outages reported in Eau Claire, western Wisconsin

Tens of thousands of customers in Wisconsin statewide did not have power services after a winter storm Thursday.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, over 70,000 customers in Wisconsin statewide did not have power services.
As of 8 a.m. Thursday, over 70,000 customers in Wisconsin statewide did not have power services.(KY3)
Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 2:39 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Tens of thousands of western Wisconsin power customers lost power service Thursday morning after a strong winter storm came through.

Outages peaked from 7 a.m. through 12 p.m. in western Wisconsin, according to the power outage tracking website poweroutage.us. Over 30,000 Xcel Energy customers, or about 1/8 of the total customers for Xcel Energy in Wisconsin, experienced a power outage Thursday. All told, power outages peaked at over 70,000 Wisconsin power customers, with the first outages reported after midnight.

A large power outage was reported along South Hastings Way in Eau Claire as of about 2:30 a.m. Several traffic lights in the area were not operational before coming back online shortly after 5 a.m. The WEAU 13 News studios were affected and ran on generator power during the outage. Heavy, wet snow fell in the area for several hours, and officials warned of downed power lines across western Wisconsin.

The Stanley Police Department posted Thursday morning that travel was not recommended and that there were several power outages in the city and throughout Chippewa County. The Tomah Fire Department reported numerous downed power lines in the Tomah area as well as Monroe County. Downed power lines in Trempealeau County on Highway 53 near Pigeon Falls blocked traffic for several hours early Thursday morning. In addition to the power outages, roads were snow covered across western Wisconsin Thursday morning. There were multiple slide-offs and crashes on Interstate 94 between Eau Claire and Monroe counties affecting traffic overnight into Thursday morning as well.

Be very cautious this morning, there are reports of down power lines throughout the the City and County. Please stay...

Posted by Tomah Fire Department on Thursday, December 15, 2022

Xcel Energy says they have operational plans in place to make sure key employees, including line workers, are available and able to respond to outages that may occur due to severe weather. Xcel Energy in a media release offers these tips for customers to stay safe in the event of a winter storm:

  • Report your outage. Customers can help Xcel Energy get a jump on power restoration by reporting outages. Customers have several ways to report outages. Through the My Xcel Energy mobile app, available in the Apple App Store and through Google Play, online at xcelenergy.com/out, or by calling 1-800-895-1999 and following the prompts.
  • Stay informed. If outages occur, it’s important for customers to have access to the most recent updates about their power restoration. Customers can stay informed by using the My Xcel Energy mobile app or visiting the Xcel Energy website. The website hosts an outage map that displays information on the number of customers out and anticipated time for restoration when available. Customers can also stay informed by following Xcel Energy on Facebook and Twitter.

We are currently experiencing a power outage in parts of the City of Stanley as are other areas within Chippewa County...

Posted by Stanley Police Department on Thursday, December 15, 2022

The media release from Xcel Energy also includes these additional ways customers can prepare and stay safe:

  • Stay away from downed power lines. Always assume an electric line, even one that is on or near the ground, is energized and therefore dangerous. Never, under any circumstance, touch or move a downed power line. If you come across a downed power line, leave the area and report it immediately by calling 1-800-895-1999.
  • Build a home emergency kit. Xcel Energy recommends assembling an easily accessible kit that you can rely on in the event of a power outage.
  • Keep gas meters clear. Clearing snow and ice from natural gas meters is key to avoiding the potential for dangerous natural gas buildup indoors due to vents becoming sealed when covered in ice and snow meltdrip on it during the day and refreeze at night. Xcel Energy strongly recommends keeping the entire meter assembly clear of snow and ice. Gently remove snow or ice from the meter, associated piping and the roofline above the meter. Check often to ensure melting snow isn’t dripping on the meter from the roof or nearby trees. Use a shovel around a meter to move snow away; avoid using your snowblower near a meter.
  • Heating safety. Xcel Energy encourages homeowners to take advantage of rebates and incentives to install energy efficient furnaces and insulation. If you chose to use a space heater, take care to ensure safety as more than 65,000 home fires are attributed to heating equipment each year in the United States, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says that power outages can cause situations that threaten health or safety. Here are some general tips about how to navigate the loss of electricity:

  • An electrical power outage or interruption may cause operational problems with your furnace. If your furnace is not operating, be careful of hazards, which can occur from alternative heating sources.
  • Do NOT use alternative heating sources such as space heaters, grills, and other appliances that can give off dangerous gases. These appliances must be properly vented. Carbon monoxide is a concern. The use and ventilation of portable power generators must be carefully monitored.
  • If you use electrical heaters powered by portable generators, be careful where you place the heater and do not leave the heater unattended.
  • When a power outage occurs, food safety becomes a concern.
  • If you have electrical problems, call the your local utility company.

Xcel Energy’s power outage map can be located here. Xcel Energy also offers tips on safety during power outages, which you can read here.