Power outages affect thousands in Omaha-metro, southwest Iowa

911 services temporarily affected in Saunders County
Thousands of customers in the Omaha-metro area and into southwest Iowa were without power as snow and winds blew through.
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 11:13 AM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Thousands were without power Tuesday morning as the area’s first substantial winter weather system pushed through the Omaha-metro area.

At 12:10 p.m., OPPD reported that power was gradually being restored, but many are still without power.

“The number of customers without power has dropped from around 4,500 to 3,111. The number of outages in Sarpy County has been reduced to less than 250, and crews are inspecting other circuits in our service area to make repairs.”

As of 11:16 a.m., Omaha Public Power District’s outage map was showing 5,715 customers — most in Sarpy and Cass counties — without power.

Thousands of people are experiencing a power outage

At 9:45 a.m., OPPD was reporting 1,527 customers without power in Sarpy County, with others experiencing “momentary interruptions” lasting about five minutes or less.

“The cause of the Sarpy County outage was identified as galloping lines that caused equipment damage. Some pole cross arms were broken,” the OPPD update states.

Galloping lines caused by ice and high winds can cause trouble

Galloping lines are caused when ice accumulates on power lines, making them form a teardrop shape. The line then becomes aerodynamic and prone to galloping with the wind.

High winds caused galloping lines in Lincoln as well on Tuesday.

OPPD said the “scattered” outages were affecting customers in Saunders, Nemaha, Johson, and Otoe counties.

“As high winds and wintry weather move through the OPPD service territory, the likelihood of outages increase,” OPPD’s 10:40 a.m. update states.

POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY

Also on Tuesday, MidAmerican Energy was reporting thousands were affected.

At 12:53 p.m., MidAmerican Energy reported 6,143 customers in the Council Bluffs service area were without power. The service area includes a broader region of southwest Iowa. Far fewer customers in Council Bluffs directly currently are experiencing power outages.

At 12:36 p.m., 8,502 customers in the Council Bluffs service area were without power.

As of 12:20 p.m., 13,325 customers in southwest Iowa were without power.

“Due to wind and ice in the Council Bluffs area, multiple transmission lines and substations have been impacted, MidAmerican Energy said in an update. “Line and tree crews are en route; there is currently no estimated time of restoration on outages in the area.”

Just before 11 a.m. they said 8,210 customers in the Council Bluffs area were without power. In its 11:07 a.m. update, that number had been reduced to 3,581 customers affected.

The outage prompted Underwood Community Schools to call off classes for the day.

“Due to the power outage we are unable to serve lunch and provide basic educational needs for our students,” according to a release from the district. “At this time we anticipate that we will have our activities this evening.”

AROUND THE METRO

Saunders County’s 911 system was also apparently down Tuesday morning, affecting Saunders, Butler, and Platte counties. Saunders County residents were advised to call 402 -443-1000 to report emergencies in the meantime.

The 911 system was back in service Tuesday afternoon.

It’s unclear whether the outage was related to the power issues or caused by weather.