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Outages drop to 1,300 as daytime highs inch up

Nearly 13,000 homes and businesses in Henderson County were without power Saturday at sunup as a winter storm sent temperatures below zero and brought wind-chill values as low as minus-16. As the temperature rose to the mid-20s under sunny skies, power was restored to all but 1,298 users, a tenth of the high mark.
At 7:30 a.m. on Saturday Duke Energy reported that 12,786 customers were without power in the county, 1,005 in Buncombe County and 263 in Transylvania. Overall, the deep freeze had caused 399,794 power outages in North and South Carolina. An hour later, around 8:30 a.m., the number had spiked to 519,000. The total had dropped to 206,172 at 3 p.m.
Overnight, Duke Energy began rolling blackouts — "short temporary power outages — to protect the energy grid against longer, more widespread outages," the utility announced. The majority will be restored remotely within 15-30 minutes, Duke said, although when a crew is needed to restore power, restoration may take longer.
"They're slowly improving," Henderson County Emergency Services Director Jimmy Brissie said at 8:30 Saturday morning. "It looks like Duke has had some rolling outages and is starting to bring some sections back on line. Mine just came back on about 20 minutes ago on (N.C.) 191. Some (outages) are probably the result of power lines down and some of them are rolling blackouts."
Emergency crews had not received reports of any injuries or deaths associated with the deep freeze nor had it identified a need to open a shelter.
"The 911 center encourages everyone to report their outages so Duke is aware of them and can track them," he said. "We and just monitor the situation to see if we have to open a shelter. To this point that need has not arisen."
Later, Brissie received an update from a Duke Energy official that the rolling outages here were expected to end around 9:30 a.m.
"As long as they continue to restore power, we won't open a warming center," Brissie said. "If the situation is prolonged and power doesn't get restored we'll evaluate that need."
The forecast for Christmas Eve called for a high of 25 and a low of 10 (windchill minus 16). Christmas Day should be sunny with a high of 32 and low of 14 (wind chill minus 3).
The National Weather Service offered tips for dealing with the frigid weather:


  • If you go outside, wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Wear a hat and cover your mouth with a scarf. Keep your gas tank near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines. Check your antifreeze and windshield washer fluid levels. Be sure to carry a fully charged cell phone.
  • If you are home, consider allowing indoor plumbing fixtures to drip to allow water to trickle through pipes and inhibit freezing.
  • Use caution with space heaters in order to avoid fire or injury. If emergency generators will be used, they must be situated outdoors in well-ventilated areas to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, remember to check in on family, friends, and elderly neighbors who might be susceptible to the cold. Make sure that pets and livestock they have a source of water that will not freeze and a warm place to take shelter from the wind and cold.


The Hendersonville Fire Department encouraged people to take extra precautions when heating their homes. Improper disposal of hot coals or ashes from fireplaces, wood stoves, and mobile fire pits has the potential to start home or brush fires. To properly dispose of ashes or coals and safely use chimneys, HFD recommends:

  • Do not remove hot ashes from the fireplace immediately. Allow ashes and coals to cool completely in the fireplace before removing them.
  • When it is time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a tightly covered metal container and wet them down.
  • Keep the metal container outside the home and away from combustible material.
  • Do not place any other combustibles in the metal container.
  • Never empty ashes directly into a trash can.
  • Chimneys should be inspected annually and cleaned as needed.
  • Make sure the area around fireplaces is clear of all combustibles and use fireplace screens to keep sparks and debris inside fireplaces.
  • Do not use accelerants to start a fire.
  • Ensure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly.

The City of Hendersonville government offices are closed for the holiday through Tuesday, Dec. 27. No garbage, recycling, brush or leaf collection will take place on Friday, Dec. 23, Monday, Dec. 26, or Tuesday, Dec. 27. Collection for customers will be delayed by one week. Collection for customers impacted by the holiday closures will resume Friday, Dec. 30, Monday, Jan. 2, and Tuesday, Jan. 3, respectively. Any extra bagged garbage for those customers will be picked up when collection resumes.

To read about cold injury to plants and fruit tree, check out extension agent Steve Pettis's column here.


there hpoe prob next 30 minutes to an hour.