ST. LOUIS – Fall colors will soon be on full display. Taking a look back at summer, it started off quiet, but the weather really ramped up in July.
The active weather was thanks to our position under the jet stream. A ridge of high pressure to our west brought big-time heat to places like Phoenix and Death Valley in Arizona, but it was a much different weather pattern for us in the form of thunderstorms.
“But that put us on the periphery of that ridge. So when we’re in that type of pattern. It allows these systems to come down out of the northwest, down to the southeast, and right along the stalled frontal boundary that we had right over our area,” meteorologist Kevin Deitsch, National Weather Service St. Louis, said. “Day after day after day, creating rounds of thunderstorms.”
The numbers are even more impressive when it comes to storm reports from the public.
“During that period in July and August, we had about 400 reports of severe weather,” Deitsch said. “That includes damaging winds, trees down. That includes large hail, some tornadoes we had. Typically, we average about 80 reports in that time period, so almost five times the severe weather reports in that period. Just goes to show how active we were.”
The storms wreaked havoc on the power grid and had Ameren Missouri crews at work 24-7, with over half-million customer outages; the busiest summer in 17 years.
“Week after week, storm after storm. We saw more storms this season than we’ve seen since 2006,” Lucas Klein, Ameren Missouri’s director of distribution operations, said. “We replaced upward of a hundred poles throughout the storm events, worked over 400,000 hours. Long days, long nights, working to put power back on to customers.”
The cumulative effect of repetitive storms created one of the toughest challenges.
“We would be restoring a storm that hit on a Friday, and then another storm would come in on a Saturday, and another on a Monday,” Klein said. “So, we wouldn’t quite be able to get fully complete with restoring our orders and cleaning up from one storm before we saw one right behind it.”
But despite the challenges, Ameren took note of how to improve.
Ameren Missouri estimates they saved about 50,000 or more outages with their smart energy plan investments. Outages that would have occurred if not for the improvements they’ve made on the grid.
“It just reinforces that we’re doing the right things where we have projects in place to make the grid stronger, more resilient, and increase reliability,” Klein said. “And we’re excited now that hopefully the storm season is hopefully past to get back to work on those projects.”