Warren’s Words of Wisdom: Storm Story



One decent sized tree + water soaked ground + wind
= down tree on wires


Out of sight, around a curve, 4 spans away from the tree, three primary wires came downstorm_story_3

Unseen from the tree, primary on cable guard rail


Primary down on metal guard rail

  • Wires (primary or secondary) on guard rails will energize them for the entire run (touch potential) and energize the ground at every post (step potential) 
  • Tree was energized (touch and step potential) 
  • Damaged pole was energized (step and touch potential)

Lessons to Be Learned

  • During storms or pole-damaging events (such as car hits), hazards can be hiding around a corner or over a hill.
  • Block off roads with down wires beyond the end of guard rail runs.
  • Even if wires are still up on the pole, they could have been pulled out of the insulators and are energizing the poles.
  • Phone and cable wires will ALWAYS be energized; they have battery back-up power systems.
  • Never trust any wire to be safe.
  • Phone and cable wires have a tremendous amount of stored energy; leave the tree removal to the utility crews. 



About Connecticut T2 Center

The Training & Technical Assistance Center at UCONN provides education and technical assistance to members of Connecticut's Transportation and Public Safety Community, including municipal public works directors, street and road maintenance superintendents and staff, city and town engineers, Connecticut Department of Transportation employees, transportation planners and law enforcement professionals serving as legal traffic authorities. We are Connecticut's LTAP Center
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