Microburst wreaks havoc on electrical equipment

FEC crews restore power after a microburst in Lakeside Montana.

A Powerful Force of Nature

Microburst wreaks havoc on electrical equipment

July 12, 2021 | Lakeside, Montana

Like a tornado, a microburst can cause extreme damage. And that’s exactly what happened when such a severe weather event hit Lakeside on the morning of July 9. Moving in fast and furiously around 5 a.m., the microburst struck an area along Stoner Creek Road and within just a few short minutes, wreaked havoc on the Co-op’s electric equipment and that of phone and cable utilities attached.

FEC crews restore power after a microburst in Lakeside Montana.
All available FEC crews worked together to replace 3 poles and restore power.

All available hands were called on deck to sort through the wreckage, which included a large tree toppled on a powerline, dislodged and tangled equipment, and three broken power poles that had been pummeled by the fury of that one, brief force of nature.

Due to the severity of the destruction at the scene, it took crews several hours to safely restore power to the 93 members impacted by the outage. Debris and damaged equipment like the cross-arm, wires, insulators et al., had to be removed and replaced; broken poles had to be hauled out and new poles brought in and reset. Everyone from linemen and servicemen to warehousemen and groundmen, to dispatchers and communicators were called to action.

At the end of the day, there was relief that no one, not a member or an employee, was harmed during the weather event as microbursts can and have posed threats not only to property but to life as well. We are unaware of the exact circumstances of the Lakeside incident, but wind speeds as high as 150 mph are possible in extreme microburst cases.

FEC crews use backhoe to remove the broken stump of a damaged power pole.
Journeyman Lineman Dane Okerlund uses a backhoe to remove the stump of a broken power pole before the new pole is set in place.
FEC Crews work to restore power
Journeyman Lineman Foremen Dave Robison and Clovie Dschaak work together to secure the crosspiece to a power pole.

Another silver-lining to this particular event? Power was restored and members were back in the business in plenty of time to prepare for the annual Lakeside Parade and Fair, which was held the following day, July 10, and reportedly, a great time was had by all.

Thank you for your patience that day good people of Lakeside and thank you Flathead Electric Crews for your diligence…always.