Saskatchewan’s Crown power utility says a major buildup of frost is to blame for knocking out electricity to about 200,000 in the province.
The outage hit the cities of Regina and Moose Jaw Tuesday, then spread through most of the province’s southeast.
SaskPower spokesman Jordan Jackle said much of the province’s power was restored as of Wednesday with the exception of a few farms in rural areas.
“It really caused a lot of damage to our high voltage transmission lines as well as our distribution lines in fact over the last four or five days,” Jackle said.
Jackle said misty and foggy conditions with no sun late last week caused frost to stick to the power lines. The frost made lines sag and prompted two major transmission lines to trip Tuesday morning.
“The frost just continued to accumulate and those lines got heavier,” he said
All three of the province’s coal fleets automatically shut off when there was nowhere to send the energy being produced.
SaskPower received 45,000 calls on Tuesday with 33,000 of those coming between 9 a.m. and noon.
Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips said parts of Saskatchewan received 67 consecutive hours of fog and freezing fog starting on Nov. 29, which created all the frost.
“I would say that this was almost historic or really unprecedented in terms of the length of this bout of weather,” Phillips said.
Freezing rain early last week in the southeast part of the province contributed to the fog with its melting moisture, he added.
Fog is normal this time of year, but Regina usually experiences 47 hours of fog for all of December, he said. That length of fog is more typical in marine locations, such as off the coast of B.C. or in Nova Scotia.
“What you had was really just a boring, monotonous kind of weather situation which was just absolutely textbook example of why you can get this kind of fog – freezing fog with these beautiful ice crystals that adhere to any object to whether they be wires, branches,” Phillips said.
Jackle said more power outages are possible since frost is still present in many areas. The company will take a look at anything it could have done differently, but Jackle said he isn’t sure what they will learn.
“There’s not much you can do to sort of prevent this four, five days of weather that we dealt with and impacted our equipment in such a large area,” Jackle said.
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