Playing dodge with 50,000 foot cumulonimbus thunderheads is not really my idea of fun but
that pretty much sums up my flight into Houston today. Texas has had so much rain lately!
There have been a lot of stories published on the weather in Texas but
here is a story(probably one of many) that has gone largely untold.
It was 1:00 AM in the morning when a neighborhood in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was hammered
by 60 MPH wind gusts, severe lightening strikes, and over 4 inches of rain during a one hour
period. Just when the weather was easing up a bit, two loud explosions were heard that
shook one house like an earthquake, terrifying the occupants. A quick search within the
house did not reveal any damage.
Later that night the doorbell rang. An electric company technician, standing in the driving
rain, explained that half of the community was without power and that they suspected that
the problem was in the backyard of this particular house.
As it turns out, the explosions were caused by a tree falling into the utility power pole.
Most power company monitoring systems are unable to pinpoint exactly where problems
originate, but can only narrow it down to a probable area. Good old fashion footwork and
visual inspection of poles is how the source of the problem is often determined. The power
was restored by 6AM but not with out a few more explosions and some very dangerous repairs
in the pouring rain by a crew of four men up on the poles.
There is no shortage of appreciation from me for those utility technicians that are dispatched in
the middle of the night during storms to restore power. We are currently working with energy
and utility companies to improve distribution monitoring systems, exploring how realtime
event monitoring and automation can speed discovery and repair. Intelligent Utility Networks (IUN)
enable ‘on-demand’ access to information on customers, assets and the power transmission and ditribution grid which are used to continuously optimize operations and planning. It is built on an SOA framework and leverages the latest Tivoli technology for end to end monitoring and management.