Entergy, the predominant utility company serving much of Southeast Louisiana, including the City of New Orleans, says its subsidiary companies have marshaled over 2,100 workers in advance of a winter storm system expected to hammer the region between Monday night and Wednesday morning.
The entire region is currently under a Winter Storm Warning, and the National Weather Service is forecasting 1–2 inches of snow and 1/4 to 1/2-inch of ice in the New Orleans metro area. Areas south of Lake Pontchartrain will see less snow and more ice accumulation as a result of the storm system.
Entergy spokesman Dennis Dawsey says the approaching ice storm may be one of the most challenging winter weather events the region has seen in years, echoing statements made by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu earlier Monday.
"Power outage restoration may extend into three to five days for some customers, depending on the severity of the damage," Dawsey said. "Ice storms can pose a significant threat to an electric system, and extremem cold weather can present additional challenges and require a different — and often slower — restoration process."
Entergy says cold weather power restoration is more complex due to the different way power must be restored to affected customers. According to the utility, during a cold weather event electric heaters and other devices create a constant, heavy load on the power grid, forcing Entergy to bring customers back online one section at a time.
Many households also leave their heating systems and appliances turned on when they lose power during a winter storm, Entergy says. When power is restored that creates an enormous, instantaneous power demand that can knock the system back offline or further damage the power grid.
Entergy suggests customers who experience a winter storm outage shut off their electric heating systems and appliances, and slowly turn them back on once power is restored in order to ease the load on the recovering grid.