WATAUGA — Icy conditions from freezing rain and sleet that fell overnight Nov. 14-15 led to closures and delays across the High Country, as well as downed trees and thousands of power outages.
The conditions were compounded by high winds and light snow late Thursday, Nov. 15, and Friday morning. As of 5:30 a.m. Friday, 4,000 customers were without power across Blue Ridge Energy’s service area.
“Over 100 additional line technicians and contract crews are now assisting 75 Blue Ridge Energy crews in a full-force effort to restore power from today’s ice storm,” Blue Ridge Energy said in an update at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Assisting crews are from EnergyUnited, Rutherford Electric Membership Corporation, Union Power Cooperative, Randolph Electric Membership Corporation, Surry Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation, Carter Tree Service, Asplundh Tree Expert Co. and Sumter Utilities Inc.
“Due to widespread damage to the system, Blue Ridge Energy is advising members in the hardest hit areas of Ashe and Alleghany counties to be prepared for restoration work to continue overnight, Friday and into Saturday,” Blue Ridge Energy said.
As of 5:30 a.m. Friday, outage numbers were 2,094 in Ashe County; 1,136 in Alleghany County; 587 in Watauga County; 73 in Wilkes County; and one in Alexander County.
Watauga County Telecommunicator Penny Roark said the county dispatch office had received roughly 75 calls as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, with about a third to half of the calls being for downed trees. She said the majority of the tree calls were in Blowing Rock, Meat Camp and Deep Gap. Other calls related to weather were due to downed lines over roadways or fire alarms, which Roark said could potentially be due to the power outages in the county.
Watauga County Schools closed schools for students, teachers and all 10-month employees on Thursday, Nov. 15, and for students on Friday, Nov. 16.
The Watauga Campus of Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute was closed for Thursday day classes and open for Thursday evening classes. The campus announced it would open at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Classes at Appalachian State were held on a regular schedule Thursday and beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday.
Blue Ridge Energy encourages customers to continue reporting outages at 1-800-448-2383 or by using their Blue Ridge Energy mobile app. Outage updates are available any time on the cooperative’s live outage map at www.BlueRidgeEnergy.com or on the mobile app.
If you encounter any downed lines, stay away! Downed power lines can remain energized. Contact with them can be dangerous, or even deadly. Blue Ridge members are urged to report any downed lines to the cooperative at (800) 451-5474 or call 911 immediately.