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Ice on Power Lines is a Weighty Subject

Updated: Nov 21, 2022

Photo of thick ice coating a power line.

In March, we know that spring is just around the corner. But we also know that March storms can produce ice instead of (or in addition to) snow. And that ice can be a dangerous force.

The added weight of ice on poles can quickly lead to broken power poles and other pole equipment. Ice can also make falling tree branches 30 times heavier and much more likely to break power lines.

For example, on a 300-foot span of 1-inch-thick power lines:

  • 1/2 inch of ice adds 281 pounds of weight

  • 1 inch of ice adds 749 pounds of weight

  • 2 inches of ice adds 2,248 pounds of weight

In addition, melting ice can cause power outages. If ice on the bottom (neutral) line melts before the lines above, it can cause the lines to touch, leading to an outage.