YVEA warns as snow piles get higher, separation from power lines is getting smaller

This map shows the power line that passes over Buffalo Pass, an area where heavy snow may increase potential for snowmobilers to come in contact with the line.
Yampa Valley Electric Association/Courtesy photo

As the snow piles get higher, it may seem that the power lines overhead are getting lower, which has Yampa Valley Electric Association warning residents to be aware of the potential danger.

This warning may be particularly relevant for snowmobilers, who may come across low power lines on Buffalo Pass. As the snowpack piles up, the distance between overhead power lines is decreasing.

The co-op warns that a snow bank touching or within 10 feet of a power line can be deadly, and that parents should ensure their children are not playing near snow banks located beneath an electrical wire. When lines are loaded with snow, they can sag even lower, and even if a line isn’t contacted, it can still cause injury or death.

Snow plow drivers should also keep and eye on how close they get to power lines or transformers, as depending on water content in the snow, their equipment could be energized, potentially creating a dangerous situation.

As for snowmobilers, YVEA says riders need to be aware of where power lines are while they are riding and try to avoid them. If riders see a downed power line in the backcountry, they should assume it is live and call 911 to report it.   

“Watch out for power poles, guy wires and electrical equipment that can be hidden in the snow,” YVEA wrote in a news release. “Heavy snowfall can often bury transformer boxes and cabinets.”

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