Power outage result of 2010 blizzard

Published 2:48 pm Monday, December 13, 2010

People who tried to call any of Austin’s Public Schools this morning received a message that all circuits were busy. In reality, the district’s phones went down as a result of a power outage on Sunday which affected many businesses on the west side of Main Street in the downtown area.

The 2010 blizzard which happened over the weekend caused a power cable scheduled for replacement next summer to malfunction, according to Tom Tylutky, the director of electrical distribution at Austin Utilities.

The cable, which was several decades old, malfunctioned at about 4 p.m. because of the sharp drop in temperatures, taking out power throughout several blocks.

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“Eventually over time and age, it finally fails,” Tylutky said. “A life of a cable can be even longer than that.”

Electricians and workers had diverted power and restored service by 5:30 p.m., although Austin High School went without power until 8 p.m., according to Corey Haugen, the district’s director of information technology.

Since the high school houses the district’s offices, the district’s web site was temporarily shut down, until district technicians could restore it.

“When the power goes out we have a backup generator in our server room, but that only maintains critical server info,” Haugen said.

In addition, the district’s phone system went down as well, although district staff weren’t aware of the problem until early Monday morning, when substitute teachers called trying to find out what their schedules were. The phone system was back up by 10 a.m.

“It made for a late night and early morning,” Haugen said.