At least 52,000 Oregonians woke up in the dark again today.
The largest power outage in state history is becoming one of the longest, as Portland General Electric admitted this morning that it had restored power to 37,000 fewer customers than it had predicted.
As recently as Friday, the electric utility said it would restore power to all but 15,000 customers by Friday night. At noon Saturday, PGE said 52,000 customers remained without power.
By Saturday afternoon, those numbers had improved, with less than 40,000 Oregonians still without electricity.
State Corson, a spokesman for PGE, tells WW the ice storm has surpassed the Columbus Day Storm of 1962 in raw numbers of customers who lost power.
"As far as the overall damage of the storm, I think this is the worst in PGE's history," Corson says. "We started in the late 1800s. This is the worst storm that we have experienced."
PGE officials said damage to its transmission lines and equipment was more extensive than it had first believed—and in some places, tree limbs fell onto power lines just as the utility finished repairing them. PGE said that's what happened to transmission lines sending power to a large portion of Clackamas and Marion counties, from Colton to North Marion to Salem to Oregon City.
"To date," the utility wrote in a statement, "one quarter of our customers impacted by this outage have had multiple outages—meaning, as we've restored and move on, we've had to go back and repeat the repair work."
The company offered a few statistics Saturday morning measuring the scale of the damage wrought by the Feb. 15 ice storm. In some places, PGE said, electrical wires were coated with more than an inch of ice, adding 1,000 pounds of weight on the wires between each utility pole.
Meanwhile, Pacific Power, which saw far fewer customers affected by the storm, said Friday evening it was down to its final 1,300 customers still lacking electricity.
The brunt of the damage from the record-setting outages was felt in rural Clackamas and Marion counties, in some of the same communities that were ravaged by wildfires in September.
Gov. Kate Brown on Friday deployed the Oregon National Guard to knock on doors in parts of Clackamas County that have been without power for nearly a week.
"I encourage folks to check in on your neighbors, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable," Brown said. "Oregonians always come together in moments of crisis, and I know this past week has been no different."
Corson, the PGE spokesman, says it's difficult to measure where this outage ranks in terms of duration—in part because the weather damage in parts of Clackamas County over the past year was so intense.
"I think there are a few customers whose property was damaged in the wildfires whose power was disconnected and we still haven't been able to reconnect," he said.