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Power companies anticipate outages as a result of ice storm

Energy United and Duke Energy have hundreds of crews working to respond to downed power lines and encouraging customers to be prepared to heat homes safely.

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — The icy weather on the way could cause problems for power companies like Energy United and Duke Energy.

“Freezing rain just sticks to the trees and really weighs them down," Steven McCachern of Energy United said. "Of course the biggest problem is tree contact—the ice bends the trees over making contact with the power lines and trees fall and break the poles bringing the lines down.”

Duke Energy is expecting 1 million outages but already has thousands of crews prepared to respond. Now they're also encouraging customers to get prepared too.

“Customers should make sure their emergency kits are ready," Megan Miles of Duke Energy said. "They should have non-perishable foods, water, medicine, their cell phones charged, blankets and really anything they need if they do experience an outage that could last for several days.”

It's also important to properly heat your home with generators that are properly ventilated to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning or use wood stoves that are closely monitored.

The ice is expected to not only be a problem for power lines but on the roads as well. North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) crews in Iredell County were out Wednesday covering the area to pre-treat roads ahead of potential icy conditions.

Justin Johnson, the county maintenance engineer for Iredell County, said crews started at 7 a.m. Wednesday, coating the interstates, primary roads, bridges, and overpasses with a brine mix.

"If you don't have to get out, please don't get out,” Johnson said. “It is a struggle to find all of the potential black ice, obviously it's black ice. It's hard to see, being that it is ice."

RELATED: How to prepare for severe weather like Brad Panovich

The brine mix is made up of salt and water. It is supposed to keep ice from sticking to the pavement.

Even so, Johnson said ice can present a different kind of challenge for drivers than snow.

"Being that it is ice, please follow all safety guidelines and regulations that are in place,” he said, “and use caution out on the roadways."

Iredell County crews wrapped up pre-treating the interstates and primary roads Wednesday afternoon. Johnson said crews would then switch over to putting on plows and spreaders in preparation to spread salt Thursday.

"It's always a lot harder to treat icy conditions than it is to remove snow from the roadway,” Johnson said. “Ice is a lot slicker. Snow, you know, it can compact and you can remove it a little easier than you can ice."

NCDOT offers these tips if you absolutely must drive in winter weather.

If you do lose power you can easily report the outage by:

  • Text 'OUT' to 57801
  • Call 1-800-POWERON for Duke Energy customers or 1-800-EUNITED for Energy United customers
  • Report an outage online 

RELATED: Gov. Cooper issues State of Emergency ahead of the incoming ice storm