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Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

thoogie
November 29, 2017 07:05AM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 39

Does anybody recall how bad the power outages/snapped poles were after Lenny in November 1999? We came down about 2 weeks after Lenny hit and remember seeing downed poles by Great Pond and no power at the Tamarind. Fortunately staying at the Caravelle (they had power) the second half of the trip was preplanned. It was our third trip to STX so we didn't know the island like we do now.

Doing a cursory quick Wiki lookup on the two hurricanes shows similar speeds and distances from STX. I'm not going to analyze the details because I'm not a meteorologist. I remember people saying Lenny was a 4/5 not a 4.

Now for my question. Is all the power lines/poles damage, island wide, mind you, caused entirely by Cat 5 vs. Cat 4 or has WAPA neglecting preventative maintenance caused a good portion of it?

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

Jumbie
November 29, 2017 08:05AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 651

Having been a resident of STX in 2008 when Lenny hit the island on the south east and east side it was more like a Cat 4. It took down utility poles only in that region of the island, The island's power grid went down but within a week to 10 days all the island had power again. We lived in Cane Bay and our power was out 8 days.

With Cat 5 Maria it took down approx 50,000 utility pole and full power restoration to the island will be measured in months not a few days. Some areas may be without power for up to 5-6 months. One has to remember Cat 5 Hurricane Irma soaked the island with rain and tropical force winds about 2 weeks prior to Maria.

There is no preventative measure WAPA could have done to minimize the damage. The only way to minimize damage to the electrical grid is to bury all lines underground. That isn't happening because after Hugo they had the $$ to do that but didn't. They only buried lines to the Hospital and some other selected gov’t buildings.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/2017 08:30AM by Jumbie.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

islandjoan
November 29, 2017 09:17AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 1,368

Jumbie, the hurricane in 2008 was Omar. The center of the hurricane was (I believe) 20 miles offshore and it was turning into a cat 3 as it passed from the west to the east.

Lenny was in 1999, also passing from the west to the east.

Here is a good analysis of Omar.Hurricane Omar

Hurricanes passing from west to east in the location of both of these storms subject the island to the western eye wall. A storm passing from east to west subjects the island to the eastern eye wall, typically the most intense part of the hurricane.

Maria definitely subjected St. Croix to much stronger sustained winds and wind gusts, than either storm did previously.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

Scubadoo
November 29, 2017 09:55AM

Registered: 3 years ago
Posts: 1,752

Most of the pole damage from Maria was due to the hurricane force winds, either directly on the wood poles or by knocking over trees and branches landing on the wires which snapped the poles. Some of the poles were over weighted (WAPA's fault) which helped the winds knock them over. WAPA does regular preventative tree trimming to avoid the ability of trees and branches to land on wires but they do not keep up with all the growth. Ideally there should be no indirect damage from trees.

WAPA is now using some composite poles to replace the old ones which have a higher wind rating. How much? They haven't said. South Florida uses steel reinforced concrete poles. Don't see many of those lying on the ground after a hurricane.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

Jumbie
November 29, 2017 10:04AM

Registered: 8 years ago
Posts: 651

Quote
islandjoan
Jumbie, the hurricane in 2008 was Omar. The center of the hurricane was (I believe) 20 miles offshore and it was turning into a cat 3 as it passed from the west to the east.

Lenny was in 1999, also passing from the west to the east.

Here is a good analysis of Omar.Hurricane Omar

Hurricanes passing from west to east in the location of both of these storms subject the island to the western eye wall. A storm passing from east to west subjects the island to the eastern eye wall, typically the most intense part of the hurricane.

Maria definitely subjected St. Croix to much stronger sustained winds and wind gusts, than either storm did previously.

islandjoan

My bad --you are correct. Thank you for the correction. Anyway we did not live there when Lenny hit We lived there when Omar hit.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

islandjoan
November 29, 2017 10:11AM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 1,368

No problem Jumbie!!!

Some people have theorized that so many poles snapped and fell due to all the extra weight of the Innovative / VIYA EVO lines. These lines did not exist in 1999 and 2008.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

Matt T
November 29, 2017 11:51AM

Registered: 11 years ago
Posts: 257

Quote
Jumbie
Having been a resident of STX in 2008 when Lenny hit the island on the south east and east side it was more like a Cat 4. It took down utility poles only in that region of the island, The island's power grid went down but within a week to 10 days all the island had power again. We lived in Cane Bay and our power was out 8 days.

With Cat 5 Maria it took down approx 50,000 utility pole and full power restoration to the island will be measured in months not a few days. Some areas may be without power for up to 5-6 months. One has to remember Cat 5 Hurricane Irma soaked the island with rain and tropical force winds about 2 weeks prior to Maria.

There is no preventative measure WAPA could have done to minimize the damage. The only way to minimize damage to the electrical grid is to bury all lines underground. That isn't happening because after Hugo they had the $$ to do that but didn't. They only buried lines to the Hospital and some other selected gov’t buildings.

Also don't forget the tail end of Jose soaked us real good in between Maria and Irma. That was some incredible weather and flooding.

As bad as we got hit, it could have been a lot worse. The storm spared most of the island from its most severe winds. If Maria had bisected the island as it did Puerto Rico, I believe the devastation would have been unprecedented for recent STX history. We would have been leveled similar to SXM and BVI from Irma.

I agree that additional weight on the poles from other services contributed to pole failure. While WAPA lineman do the best they can do with the tools they have, these guys from the states are taking things up a notch. Deeper holes, tighter lines, higher poles, etc.

Composite poles would be great. Micro-grids would be great. Forward thinking proactive leaders would be a godsend. Maybe when my son is my age these things will come to fruition here.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/2017 11:52AM by Matt T.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

islandjoan
November 29, 2017 12:05PM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 1,368

Matt T yes you are so right!!! I still cannot believe how STX was spared by so few miles and such a slight shift in the trajectory of Maria. We could have been devastated as badly as Dominica was.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

thoogie
November 29, 2017 01:26PM

Registered: 12 years ago
Posts: 39

My bad on totally forgetting the Irma ground softening. But when it comes to PM, how long do poles last in the VI compared to stateside? I've noticed too how WAPA takes another pole and uses it to shore up, like a kickstand, to what I assume is a leaning pole. I notice that more on East End Road and assume it's because of the added strain of zigzaging the the lines on curves rather than straight shots.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

Gator's Mom
November 29, 2017 04:00PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 701

Wood power poles in the US last 40-60 years. In Florida, there are wood transmission poles in use that are over 100 years old.

In power world, if a pole is standing it's still doing its job so anywhere you go in the US you'll see poles leaning every which way if you look closely. Distribution poles are meant to carry power, telephone, cable TV and other utility lines under normal weather conditions.

Poles do different jobs. In big America, metal towers or concrete poles usually are used for high voltage transmission lines that bring power from a power plant to sub-stations. From the sub-station, large wood poles support major distribution feeder lines. You'll find smaller poles in neighborhoods.

Underground electric is coveted by consumers everywhere. Underground originally had a life of about 30 years though I think the shelf life is longer now. The electric and other utility lines are encased in sealed tubes filled with mineral oil that have been known to crack and leak - particularly in earthquake prone areas. Linemen dislike underground because you can't readily see the problem as you can if it's hanging off a pole.

To convert to underground is enormously expensive and the burden usually rests with the customer - you will pay 4x more than for an overhead line. If FEMA pays for main distribution feeder lines to be placed underground - rest assured you will pay to bring underground service to your home and that can add thousands of dollars to your power bill at $40/foot.

FEMA policy is to restore electric service back to the state it was in originally. There is a compelling case to improve the grid - but that is not FEMA's original obligation.

Right now it's simple - if you want WAPA to change its delivery system, the VI rate payer will have to pay more.

And, yes, I have worked for a major electric company.


Quote
thoogie
My bad on totally forgetting the Irma ground softening. But when it comes to PM, how long do poles last in the VI compared to stateside? I've noticed too how WAPA takes another pole and uses it to shore up, like a kickstand, to what I assume is a leaning pole. I notice that more on East End Road and assume it's because of the added strain of zigzaging the the lines on curves rather than straight shots.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/2017 04:02PM by Gator's Mom.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

islandjoan
November 29, 2017 04:20PM

Registered: 10 years ago
Posts: 1,368

thanks Gator's Mom, that was very informative!!!

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

vicanuck
November 30, 2017 09:47AM

Registered: 7 years ago
Posts: 2,095

My power lines are already underground from the meter base by the pole to my house.

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

LiquidFluoride
November 30, 2017 02:05PM

Registered: 5 years ago
Posts: 1,935

I had a pole in my yard that WAPA claims is mine (meter was hanging on it) that is down in my yard.. (the claim was from a couple years ago when meter fell off the leaning pole).

Any precedent for something like that? will I have to pay to replace a pole I don't want in the middle of my yard? (the meter is also in the middle of my yard....)

Re: Power Lines, Lenny vs. Maria

Gator's Mom
November 30, 2017 03:55PM

Registered: 4 years ago
Posts: 701

Not everyone has the privilege to own his own utility pole. Sounds like the pole is yours - as is the meter box, weather head and service entrance cable. WAPA owns the line on the pole in the nearest easement, the service drop line from the easement pole to the meter and the meter itself. However, you are responsible for maintaining the service drop line.

Could be an opportune time to relocate the meter to a better spot on your property rather than replace the pole.


Quote
LiquidFluoride
I had a pole in my yard that WAPA claims is mine (meter was hanging on it) that is down in my yard.. (the claim was from a couple years ago when meter fell off the leaning pole).

Any precedent for something like that? will I have to pay to replace a pole I don't want in the middle of my yard? (the meter is also in the middle of my yard....)

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