WORTHINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — A combination of freezing rain and wet, heavy snow brought down trees and power lines in Worthington on Wednesday, leaving much of the southwest Minnesota town without electricity or heat, and even snapped a 500-foot radio tower, too.
The community of 12,000 residents went dark around 3:30 a.m., when the second of two major substations lost power. Weather also toppled a third, alternative power source.
“We’re just sitting out here with no connection from the outside world,” Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain said. “We do have 14 megawatts of diesel generated power, but that isn’t enough to carry our entire community so we’ve been rolling blackouts.”
Some 4,200 Nobles Cooperative Electric customers lost power after the storm deposited about eight-tenths of freezing rain Tuesday night. The Worthington Daily Globe reports more than 3,200 were still waiting for the power to come back by late Wednesday morning, and some rural customers probably won’t see their service restored for two days.
Another 2,000 customers of Federated Rural Electric lost power in the Jackson area, and 800 were still without power by late Wednesday morning.
The Department of Homeland Security says that about 90 percent of Nobles County was without power on Wednesday. They’re setting up a shelter at the National Guard Armory in Luverne.
Businesses have closed and school has been canceled in an attempt to reduce demand on the fragile power grid. The Utilities Department is working to keep blackouts to a maximum of 45 minutes to keep homes warm and dry.