We all know that winters can be harsh at times across Central New York. The main power supply company in the region, National Grid, also is impacted when winter storms affect the area, especially ones that produce ice.

To attempt to limit the impacts of winter storms, National Grid uses the National Weather Service, local media forecasts and heavily relies on a private weather company called DTN out of Minnesota.

Tanner Verstegen, a meteorologist working for the private weather firm, DTN, explains how they help National Grid. “National Grid will send us information on past outages from past storms. How this nor’easter maybe impacted operations or the grid from maybe 2015, 2016 whatever. Then we couple that through A.I. machine learning and produce kind of an outage prediction based on our forecasted weather.”

Normally DTN provides a heads up to National Grid on a potential storm about 6 to 10 days out, especially if it’s a big one. National Grid typically has to plan for the worst-case scenario just have their bases covered.

Matt Barnett, National Grid Vice President of Electric Operations, says,“3 to 5 days out you’ll start to get a sense for more confidence that there really is something here and depending on what that something might be, we’ll make the right decisions that we think will prepare us.”

For example, Matt says, information like the track, duration of a storm, precipitation type and forecast winds informs National Grid’s decision to hold company crews beyond their scheduled shift, bring in additional crews to assist in highly impacted areas and where to deploy additional resources.

Also, according to Matt, if there is a big storm on the way, National Grid not only activates their emergency planning team but also the external affairs team which works directly with elected officials, cities/towns, and emergency management offices to update them on their preparations and response. This kind of prepping provides National Grid a better opportunity to shorten power outage time for customers.

So now when there’s a pending winter storm, hopefully, you have a better understanding of how National Grid prepares to protect the grid to keep you warm and the lights on this winter season.