PHOENIX - Arizona's monsoon season this year was one for the books. According to the National Weather Service, some areas on the state received up to 200% of the normal rainfall amounts.
Winds also played a destructive role this season, causing substantial damage and power outages that kept utility crews busy.
The monsoon season runs June through September. APS crews typically replace approximately 290 poles during this four-month period.
This year, APS replaced a record 811 power poles - if that amount was arranged end-to-end on the ground, they would measure out to be around seven miles long.
That's roughly the distance from downtown Phoenix to downtown Tempe.
"We did hire a meteorologist here prior to the beginning of the year, so we were able to predict some of the stuff that was going to be coming so we can stand by, make sure we have materials," said Scott Dearth, APS manager of distribution maintenance. "As we know…the weather is unpredictable. In some cases nothing happened, other cases we prepared, and we’re ready for it."
In just one week alone in July, APS crews worked around the clock to replace more than 400 damaged power poles following a string of unusually strong storms that hit communities like Eloy, Arizona City, Douglas, Buckeye and Casa Grande.
In August, a powerful storm knocked down dozens of power poles down Scottsdale Road near Cactus.
"Our demographic's different, you know, here in Metro Phoenix," Dearth said. "It’s very easy for us in most cases once we have a large outage to switch around and get the majority of the customers on very, very quickly.
"There’s always going to be typically a pocket in which it may take…more hours, maybe even 24 hours in some cases, but in the districts, like for example down in Eloy, we don’t have a method to reroute the power down there," he continued. "So in that case typically some of those customers can see an extended outage."
After every storm, APS officials say they implement after action reviews to help crews learn from every outage.
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