News Releases

Winter storms can bring the danger of downed power lines

December 27, 2018

Columbus, Neb. – Being aware of the dangers of downed power lines remains important as another season of winter storms gets underway, according to Nebraska Public Power District.

High winds, heavy snow and ice build-up can cause power lines to break or falter. “Anytime someone sees a power line down on the ground or blowing in the wind, we encourage people to stay clear of the area and notify their local power provider immediately,” says NPPD Distribution Supervisor Ray Boston. “Broken power lines can have an electrical charge and are very dangerous if not handled by a professional. At no time should the public attempt to move a downed power line.”

Winter storms can bring a few different threats to power lines including galloping, downed, and floating wires. Galloping wires occur when high winds force two adjacent power lines to hit each other, which may cause an outage. Floating wires consist of power lines that have been broken and are blowing in the wind or are not long enough to contact the ground.

If a powerline falls on a roadway, motorists should not try to drive over the line or move it from the roadway. This could result in serious injury. If a power line were to fall on top of a driver’s vehicle, the occupants should remain inside, call for help, and wait for a professional to deenergize the line.

“If a power line has fallen on your vehicle, and a fire, or some other emergency, is forcing you to exit the vehicle, you want to take a couple of precautions,” added Boston, “get to the edge of your vehicle and leap as far away as possible, landing on two feet and never touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then shuffle at least 25 feet away from your vehicle. Although you may not be touching the power line directly, the ground and other objects in the area could be carrying an electric charge.”

NPPD customers can call 1-877-ASK-NPPD or go to to report an outage or damaged power line.