Omaha's first snowfall of the season causes slick roads, over 50,000 power outages

Kids played board games by flashlight, folks threw extra logs into the fireplace and at least one couple camped out in the driveway in their heated RV.

The wet, heavy snow that blew through eastern Nebraska on Sunday left thousands without power, yet people remained connected as they shared images via Facebook of their return to what some jokingly described as "pioneer days."

For others, especially the elderly and ill, the loss of power created anxiety and worry as people tried to sort out what to eat and how to stay warm overnight.

At the peak of the storm Sunday afternoon, the Omaha Public Power District reported 57,000 outages, according to spokeswoman Jodi Baker. About 10 p.m., that number remained at 27,000, according to the utility's website.

By 7:45 a.m. Monday, the utility was reporting 4,900 without power, most of those in Douglas County. Virtually all — perhaps 99 percent — should have power restored by midnight Monday, Baker said.

OPPD called in nearly 100 personnel to help with repairs. Additionally, the Nebraska Public Power District sent in crews to assist OPPD with power restoration, said Mark Becker, NPPD spokesman.

Eight school buildings in the Westside Community Schools district remained without power on Sunday night, and were at risk of not holding classes on Monday. The district said it would announce by 6 a.m. Monday if any school buildings were canceling classes.

The outage forced some grocery stores to scramble to save what refrigerated and frozen foods they could.

The Hy-Vee at 5150 Center St. had a generator kick in after losing electricity about 1 p.m., but the generator wasn't enough to power all of its freezers and refrigerators, a manager there said Sunday night.

Workers spent the early afternoon moving food to powered backup storage units on trucks, and what didn't fit had to be thrown out, the manager said.

Electricity was restored there about 8 p.m., he said. He expected the store to be restocked Monday.

The storm set daily records for snowfall, said Scott Dergan, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. Omaha officially recorded 1.5 inches of snow, though some areas saw about 3 inches. Lincoln's official total was 3.5 inches. Before Sunday, Lincoln had never recorded snow on Oct. 14, and Omaha had seen only a trace on that date, Dergan said. Weather records date to the late 1800s.

It wasn't either city's earliest snow, he noted. Omaha's earliest snow was Sept. 29, 1985, when three-tenths of an inch fell.

The cold front that accompanied the storm was expected to usher in the season's first killing freeze, with lows forecast to drop into the upper 20s overnight. Delicate plants and flowers will disappear from the landscape, and the freeze may be enough to ease the misery of allergy sufferers.

A much nicer week is in store: Sunshine and highs in the 40s and 50s.

On Sunday, the sight of sagging trees, weighted down by the snow, and the random sounds of cracking of branches brought back memories of the Oct. 24-26, 1997, snowstorm that devastated trees in eastern Nebraska. In that storm, 13 inches of wet, heavy snow fell over two days, littering the ground with fallen trees, broken limbs and downed power poles and wires. At the peak of the 1997 storm, upward of 130,000 homes and businesses and about 300,000 people were without power — many for up to two weeks.

With that storm on their minds, a number of people headed outdoors Sunday to brush snow from their trees.

Omahan Vince Shay was among those. The sunset maple in front of his Dundee/Elmwood Park home still bears the scars from 1997.

"If you don't like interesting weather, you shouldn't live in Nebraska," Shay mused.

A block or two east, neurosurgeon Steve Doran took a chainsaw to a fallen maple branch.

"Not a good combination," he quipped as he cleared the branch from the driveway.

Sunday's storm brought the most outages OPPD has seen since June 2017, when storms bearing powerful straight-line winds and tornadoes caused 76,000 outages.

Other hazards from Sunday's storm included power lines starting fires after contacting trees in several locations, and tree limbs blocking roadways.

Many traffic lights were not working. By early afternoon, there had been enough fender-benders on snow-slickened streets that the Omaha Police Department stopped responding to minor property damage collisions.

The Nebraska State Patrol reported that it assisted more than 100 drivers on the state's roadways Sunday and responded to dozens of crashes.

Sunday's snow also caused cancellation of events and early closings. The "Support the Girls" breast cancer awareness event in Elkhorn was postponed to Saturday. Vala's Pumpkin Patch closed about 2 p.m. due to safety concerns.

"We were having some branches falling, and it was just unsafe to have people on the farm," Jan Vala said. "People were here having fun, but safety comes first."

The Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium announced that its "Spooktacular" was canceled. Guests who pre-purchased tickets for the event will be contacted by the zoo's marketing department.

The storm blanketed much of the state. In northwest Nebraska, 5 to 7 inches of snow was reported. The 3 inches that fell in Valentine was enough to set a daily record there, according to the weather service. The previous record had been a trace of snow.

Bitterly cold weather was forecast across much of western Nebraska, and the weather service warned that wind chills could drop below zero in some parts of the state by Monday morning.

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See the origial full article at: https://www.omaha.com/news/metro/omaha-s-first-snowfall-of-the-season-causes-slick-roads/article_e04e6ad3-d38c-582f-a70f-e2d7c0dd737b.html

A field of soybeans, nearly ready for harvest, are blanketed in wet snow in Sarpy County, NE.
A man helps clean up a large branch blocking part of a street in Papillion, NE
Maple leaves droop under the weight of snow clinging to them in a Papillion, NE neighborhood Sunday - October 14
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Don't miss Schneider Electric's Design Engineer Seminar

This is the last opportunity of 2018 to see the constantly evolving Schneider Electric Technology Center in St. Louis!

Join the Schneider team for an interactive and hands on education session. This includes lab time and break out of electrical and mechanical sessions, the latest in critical power and cooling trends, industrial applications, prefabricated data centers, and helpful design tools that will keep you on the cutting edge of the latest technologies.

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Important FAQ about Arc Flash protection Clothing

What you need to know:

What does 8 cal mean when people say, ‘8 cal shirt or garment’?

This term is really an abbreviation of, or slang for, 8 calories/cm², which are the units of measurement of an arc rating. If someone is saying they need an “8 cal” flame resistant (FR) fabric or garment, what they might really be saying they need is an arc rating of at least 8 calories/cm² or greater to meet a personal protective equipment (PPE) Category 2 requirement as defined by standard NFPA 70E. However, the PPE Category 2 level of protection only starts at 8 calories/cm² and goes up to 25 calories/cm², or PPE Category 3. Obviously, the difference in protection at 8 and 24 calories/cm² is significant, so it’s important to conduct your risk assessment prior to specifying a protection level and to understand that PPE Category 2 is a broad statement.

Is it ok to use fabric softener on FR clothing?

The laundering instructions for all FR and arc rated fabrics prohibit use of fabric softeners because most softeners are flammable and will accrete (build up) on the garment over time. The fabric is still FR, but now a flammable contaminant has been added to the surface and can be ignited by a flash fire or arc flash.

Can you use bug repellent with FR clothing?

When applying insect repellents to garments, a waterborne, permethrin-based insect repellent has been shown in testing to not have an adverse effect on flame resistance. However, it is not recommended to use DEET or DEET-containing insect repellents on any FR fabrics. DEET and DEET-containing insect repellents can be flammable, and therefore, have an adverse effect on the flame resistance of FR garments. It is important to note that DEET and DEET-containing insect repellents do not remove or destroy the flame resistance of fabrics, but they mask it. Once the garment is laundered and the DEET and DEET-containing insect repellents are removed, the flame resistance is still intact.

Is it possible to buy one uniform that protects against both arc flash and flash fire?

Yes, there are fabrics that protect against multiple hazards. However, it’s important to remember that not every fabric does. As you’re putting together your FR clothing program, make sure you discuss your hazards with your supplier and you know the FR fabric brand used to make your garments.

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See the origial full article at: https://ecmweb.tradepub.com

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Hot Topics: Arc Ratings, NFPA 70E, & More

Is it ok to use fabric softener on FR clothing? Is it possible to buy a uniform that protects against both arc flash and fire? What does 8 cal mean when people say, ‘8 cal shirt or garment’?

In our all-new FAQS, industry technical experts address the questions surrounding the hottest topics of 2018: NFPA 70E, Arc Ratings, and FR.

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Arc Flash Accidents

Take the time to read through these Forensic Casebook ar­ticles to help enhance practical safety les­sons for your own employees, using these case studies as a training resource for “what not to do.”

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