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Summer 2022 monsoon among the most powerful ever
Arizona’s 2022 monsoon officially ended Sept. 30 and it’s one for the record books. The season’s record rain and high winds created widespread damage and power outages.
According to the National Weather Service, many areas of Arizona experienced up to 200% of normal monsoon rainfall amounts. Both Phoenix and Flagstaff saw above normal lightning strikes and wind gusts surpassed 70 and 80 MPH in various parts of the state, blowing down poles, power lines and even large transmission lattice towers that help carry electricity across the state.
From May through September, Arizona Public Service (APS) crews replaced a record 811 damaged power poles. Picture this, if those poles were arranged end to end on the ground, they would measure seven miles long! APS crews typically replace approximately 290 poles during this four-month period.
“We appreciate our customers’ patience during what was an unusually active monsoon season as many parts of our service territory experienced strong storms over an extended period of time,” said Tony Tewelis, Vice President of Transmission & Distribution for APS. “While extreme weather challenged the APS electric grid in a significant way, our extensive planning and investment to strengthen the system helped minimize disruptions to our customers during even the most powerful storms. When severe weather did knock out power, our dedicated crews worked day and night in rainy, hot, humid, muddy conditions to repair damage from high winds and lightning.”
In one week alone in mid-July, APS crews worked around the clock to replace more than 400 damaged power poles following a string of unusually strong storms across Arizona that hit the communities of Eloy, Arizona City and Douglas especially hard.
“We understand all too well that monsoon storms can adversely impact customer service,” Tewelis said. “It’s our responsibility to do all that we can to prevent disruptions by developing innovative approaches to preventative maintenance, as well as careful planning and exhaustive training to prepare for the summer storm season.”
According to Tewelis, “Spot the Dog,” a robot equipped with an infrared camera to detect hot spots and perform inspections, and the use of drones to proactively inspect APS power lines and equipment in hard-to-reach places, are just two examples of many efforts to ensure customer reliability.
Watch Spot the robot inspector and see how APS uses drones.
This year, APS added a meteorologist to the team whose expertise helps forecast weather and wildfire conditions, events and potential impacts to electrical equipment. After every storm season, employees utilize lessons learned to improve strategies and operational plans in order to be ready for the next storm season and to continue providing industry-leading reliability to customers.
"When severe weather did knock out power, our dedicated crews worked day and night in rainy, hot, humid, muddy conditions to repair damage from high winds and lightning.”
Tony Tewelis, APS Vice President of Transmission & Distribution