Over 8,000 customers of Jersey Central Power & Light in Morris, Sussex and Warren counties were without power on Thanksgiving morning, according to their outage map.

Wires brought down by heavy snow in North Jersey (JCP&L/FirstEnergy)

In a tweet, the utility says over 40,000 were in the dark on Wednesday night as heavy, wet snow brought down 18 utility poles. The Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative reported over 1,200 outages in its service area

The Thanksgiving eve storm was the first test of the season for New Jersey's utility companies, including JCP&L and Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) .

A few months ago, JCP&L completed inspections and maintenance on weather-sensitive equipment across its service area, according to Ron Morano, a spokesman for the company.

"Crews worked over the past two months doing these maintenance inspections in preparation for the winter," Morano said.

Cold temperatures, heavy snow and wind have the potential to cause damage to poles, wires and substations, but the advanced preparations can help enhance system reliability when the snow begins to fall, according to Morano.

"The work includes inspecting heating equipment for substation components, such as capacitor banks, transformers and oil- and gas-filled circuit breakers. Some substations also include buildings that have remote-controlled relay equipment. These structures were winterized and the heating systems inspected," Morano said.

Bucket trucks and other vehicles also have been inspected to ensure safe operations during the winter season. In addition, snow removal equipment has also been checked.

Morano noted helicopter patrols are done year-round on more than 750 miles of transmission lines to identify damaged wires, broken cross arms, failed insulators and other hardware problems not visible from the ground. In addition, tree contractors trim branches around electric lines to safeguard against tree-related outages.

PSE&G has also done a number of storm preparedness things over the past couple of years, especially since Superstorm Sandy.

"We do have an emergency response center and protocol set up for any incoming storms. In anticipation of the storm, we're ensuring that all available personnel are ready to respond beginning Wednesday morning," said Brooke Fisher, a spokesperson for PSE&G.

PSE&G also has arranged for tree crews to assist its power outage crews and will have additional supplies, including pulls and transformers, on hand, according to Fisher.

In addition, PSE&G offers the following tips to customers to prepare:

  • Charge your cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices.
  • Fill up your car’s fuel tank.
  • Ensure you have a battery-powered radio and a supply of fresh batteries.
  • Check your supply of flashlights, blankets, nonperishable food and bottled water for everyone in your family.
  • Put your refrigerator and freezer at the coldest setting. Keep a blanket handy to throw over these appliances for added insulation. If electricity is interrupted, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
  • Compile a list of emergency phone numbers to report power outages or downed wires.

Both utilities offer customers several ways to report outages or get status updates. Information can be found at www.firstenergycorp.com/connect or at www.pseg.com.

Dan Alexander also contributed to this story.