The buildup of frost and rime ice on the power infrastructure is being cited as one of the main factors for a number of power outages throughout the southeast, and all of Saskatchewan, this morning. SaskPower reported outages in the areas northwest and northeast of Weyburn, in the Carlyle, Arcola and Lampman areas, and south of Estevan in the southeast. Other affected areas included near Moose Jaw and near Kindersley.  

The outages this morning had around 10,000 SaskPower customers without electricity, but the issue is one that has been ongoing for a few days, according to Joel Cherry, a spokesperson with the Crown utility.  

“We had a few isolated and sporadic outages through the day yesterday, and the day before, so it's certainly an issue that we're that we're aware of that we're working on,” he explained. 

Cherry said that frost generally doesn’t cause problems unless it builds up for a long period of time. The weather conditions through much of the province over the past week or so, though, have created the conditions to allow for the buildup of the frost.  

Frost Photo by Faith Hagen Frost build up (photo by Faith Hagen) 

“Transmission lines are being affected, so transmission lines are the higher voltage lines that carry power over longer distances, and so when one of them goes down, greater areas affected because all the distribution lines that are fed by that transmission line also go off,” Cherry elaborated. 

The last time there were significant problems with the power grid associated with frost was back in 2018. In that situation, the power station at Estevan tripped off, which led to a chain reaction across much of the province. Cherry cautioned this isn’t quite as severe as that time, however. 

For areas that are still without power, SaskPower is working to get everything back up and running, however, at this time there is no estimated time of repair for the affected areas. 

One thing that will help with the prevention of more outages over the next day or so is the forecast. With sunshine expected here in the southeast, it is hoped that the sunlight will be able to melt the frost off of the lines. As well, a lack of humidity will also prevent the buildup of frost.  

“It's pretty to look at, but it's you know if it happens for long enough it's not good for us,” Cherry added.