Utilities, crews prepare for late-March snowstorm

Wintertime view of the RI Statehouse (Dave Wiggins/WPRI-TV)

(WPRI) — The people who keep the power on for Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts are getting ready for the possibility of outages and damage from Tuesday’s snow — with the potential for felled trees and damage to utility lines.

“We design and build our system to stand up to the effects of storms like this,” said Mike Hayhurst, the vice-president of Electric System Operations for Eversource, which operates the power grid in eastern Massachusetts. Monday morning, he said the utility’s staff is ready to address whatever damage the snow and winds might cause.

National Grid, which operates electricity in Rhode Island and some areas of Massachusetts, said Monday they’re getting their Providence command center ready for the nor’easter. “We’ve been mobilizing crews, bringing them into Rhode Island, getting them ready and in position,” said spokesperson Darlene Masse. Some crews came from as far away as Tennessee and Kentucky. With the out-of-towners, the crews number about 400.

To be prepared if you do lose power, Masse reminds us to get flashlights, batteries, blankets and warm clothing ready.

Power Outage Safety Guide »

Before the storm arrives Tuesday morning is also the time to charge wireless communication devices — cell phones, smartphones, and tablets — to track developments and contact authorities in an emergency, Eversource’s Michael Durand said in a news release. He also advised customers to check American Red Cross guidelines on preparing storm-readiness kits, including stocking water and food for family members — including the elderly, infants and pets.

It can take anywhere from minutes to hours to restore power, so patience is key, Masse said.

Monday afternoon, under calm conditions, each utility reported one single outage — with National Grid reporting one in Cranston, R.I., affecting fewer than 5 customers, and Eversource reporting one up in Newton, Mass., affecting less than 100 customers.

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