LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Entergy Arkansas is beginning preparations for the anticipated severe winter storm which is expected to bring ice to Northwest and Central Arkansas, along with the River Valley.

Entergy says it is staging crews, equipment, and supplies in areas of the state likely to be the hardest hit in the coming days based on the forecast. The company says customers should prepare now.

“It’s important to be prepared at your home or business for freezing weather and possible power outages with a basic emergency supply kit, along with a family emergency plan. Act now to winterize your home or business with some simple steps like insulating water pipes, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and ensuring fire extinguishers are ready for use,” Entergy says.

According to Entergy, each of the company’s power plants has a customized plan to support fleetwide winter preparedness efforts, including:

  • Insulating critical equipment using improved methods and materials to protect them from lower temperatures.
  • Insulating all piping, with the potential for standing water during normal operation, to prevent freezing.
  • Designing and building permanent windbreaks or enclosures to protect pumps and other critical equipment.
  • Exploring the use of wireless instrument line monitoring systems to monitor temperatures of critical equipment.
  • Other efforts to prepare and maintain critical systems and infrastructure across the grid in advance of colder temperatures also included:
  • Inspecting and testing equipment that can be impacted by extreme cold such as gas-filled circuit breakers.
  • Ensuring the readiness of assets that provide electric service to critical gas infrastructure and other points of delivery that are vital to support generation reliability and resiliency.
  • Inspecting and maintaining substations and transmission lines that are critical to Bulk Electric System reliability.

The storm could leave damage including downed power lines. Entergy says extra weight on power lines caused by ice can cause them to fall or stretch, possibly causing power interruptions.

The company continues, saying while it manages the growth of trees and bushes near electrical equipment, one half-inch of ice can increase the weight of a tree limb as much as 30 times, causing even smaller limbs to bend or snap, falling onto power lines and causing an outage.

After the severe weather clears out, you may want to follow this advice from Entergy, especially if there is an outage at your home:

  • Restoration in extremely cold conditions may take a little longer, as energizing homes requires a different and methodical process. Rather than simply energizing an entire power line all at once, we must bring customers back online one section at a time to avoid damage to our system thereby worsening the situation.
  • In the event power is lost at your home, customers are advised to turn off breakers to major appliances to prevent a spike in demand when power is restored. Turn them back on one at a time when your home is ready to receive power.
  • Also, keep refrigerator doors closed but open cabinets that house water pipes. In doing so, food is less likely to spoil, and pipes are less likely to freeze and burst.
  • If you choose to use a generator, be sure to follow all manufacturer’s guidelines for safe usage.

It’s safest to avoid the area near ice-laden power lines and tree limbs; however, if you see downed or low-hanging lines, stay away, and call 1-800-9OUTAGE to report them.