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Daryl Ritchison, Published October 08 2012

Weather Talk: Water content of snow can boost potential for outages

One of the concerns with the snowstorm last week was the potential for power outages. Because the leaves were still on the trees, the surface area that snow can accumulate on was greatly expanded.

With temperatures above freezing, the snow that fell was quite heavy as it had a very high water content. The average ratio of snow to water in this area is 14:1, meaning it would take 14 inches of snow to equal 1 inch of rain. Last Thursday’s snow event ratio was as low as 4:1.

A gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds. If you took a gallon jug of water and hung it on a tree branch, you would quickly realize how easily some branches can bend. With so many power lines near trees, the snow-laden branches in several cases either touch the lines, causing arcing to occur, or just fall on the lines. breaking them. Either way, power was lost in many areas and in some locations for a couple of days.

Have a weather question you’d like answered? Email weather@wday.com, or write to WDAY Stormtracker, WDAY-TV, Box 2466, Fargo, ND 58108

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