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Update: Power to remain out for thousands overnight

In what the electrical cooperative is calling an unprecedented move, Crow Wing Power repair crews will be called back from the field at 5 p.m. due to dangerous weather conditions.

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Crow Wing Power Outage Map: This map is displaying the current outages in our (Crow Wing Power) service area. The black and grey area represents our service area, and the colored squares and polygons represent outages that are occurring right now. We (Crow Wing Power) are working to resolve all outages as quickly and effectively as possible. Please call 218-829-2827 to report an outage. Screen grab of CW Power outage map at 5:15 p.m. Friday.

In what the electrical cooperative is calling an unprecedented move, Crow Wing Power repair crews will be called back from the field at 5 p.m. due to dangerous weather conditions.

"This is the first time in my 26 years at Crow Wing Power that we've ever closed the offices," said Char Kinzer, public relations manager. "We've never, ever not allowed crew members to go out after 5 p.m."

Kinzer said the company's management determined weather conditions in the midst of Winter Storm Argus were too dangerous for linemen to continue with power restoration efforts. Anyone remaining without power at 5 p.m. within the Crow Wing Power service area will not have power restored until at least Saturday. As of 4:45 p.m., 4,197 customers were without power.

"That's unheard of with Crow Wing Power," Kinzer said. "It is very dangerous out there. We've called in extra auxiliary crews from other areas of the state, but they can't get here until tomorrow (Saturday)."

Kinzer said the company is facing downed trees and heavy, wet snow conditions, along with ice forming as temperatures drop. It took Kinzer herself 1.5 hours to travel from Brainerd to Crosby once the office closed, a trip normally requiring about 25 minutes of travel time.

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For information on Crow Wing Power outages, visit www.cwpower.com and click on the outage viewer. Customers may also follow Crow Wing Power on Facebook.

Minnesota Power, which has customers spanning along the Highway 371 corridor from Unorganized Territory north through Cass County, reported dangerous weather conditions are also hampering its efforts to restore power.

"High winds, heavy snow and whiteout conditions are making power restoration efforts difficult in the western service region from Walker south to Royalton this afternoon," a news release stated. "These extreme weather conditions could mean extended outage times for some customers."

As of 3 p.m. Friday, power was out for about 6,800 customers, mostly in the western service area. The largest outages are in the Hackensack, Royalton, Buckman, Backus, Pine River and Nisswa areas. Customers in the Royalton area will be without power until this evening as crews replace downed poles, a job that requires de-energizing the area to ensure safety, the release stated.

An amended update to the news release was sent shortly thereafter, with a note from Amy Rutledge, manager of corporate communications for Minnesota Power.

"After speaking with our line supervisors in western Minnesota just moments ago, it is quite possible given the dangerous road conditions, that our customers in western Minnesota may experience prolonged outages that could extend into tomorrow," Rutledge wrote.

Also at 3 p.m. Friday, 236 customers were without power in the central and northern service regions that include the Duluth area and the Iron Range. Crews in the field advised outages in these areas may expand if the wind gusts experienced in the western service area move east with the same force.

For the latest Minnesota Power outage information, visit the Minnesota Power Outage Center at www.mnpower.com/OutageCenter and download the smartphone app. Customers also can follow Minnesota Power on Facebook and/or Twitter to get outage updates.

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"Safety is paramount while restoring power during severe weather events, for both Minnesota Power line crews and customers," the release stated. "Minnesota Power strives to restore power as quickly as possible while also ensuring the safety of all."

Related Topics: MINNESOTA POWER
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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