Hurricanes

A Hurricane’s Effect on Electricity

Originally published in 2012, this blog has been updated with data from 2017 hurricanes.

Hurricanes are one of nature’s most deadliest and destructive storms. After a storm hits, power crews throughout the region rush to the affected area to assist with repairing storm damage. Although we are only half way through the Atlantic hurricane season, which lasts from June 1st– November 30th, the combined damage of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is estimated to cost upwards to $290 billion. One of the most physically damaging aspects associated with hurricanes is the amount of flying debris, which demolishes buildings, severs power lines, and eliminates power for millions of people.

Here are some facts that illustrate the amount of destruction a hurricane can cause:

  • Over 1 million residential homes lost power due to Hurricane Isaac
  • Hurricane Issac flooded 32 substations and demolished 60 transmission lines
  • 12,000 electrical workers were deployed in the aftermath of Issac
  • Hurricane Katrina caused over $80 billion in damages, making it the most expensive natural disaster in history
  • Florida Power & Light had to replace 930 miles of overhead distribution conductor, 570 miles of overhead service conductor, 1.1 million overhead splices, and 12,632 distribution poles after the 2005 hurricane season
  • During Katrina, Mississippi Power sustained damage to over 65% of its transmission and distribution system (approximately 6,000 miles of power line)
  • 181 power lines and 263 substations were out of service due to Hurricane Katrina
  • Hurricane Ike caused over 7.5 million power outages

Due to the amount of devastation that hurricanes can create, electrical utility companies have detailed plans in place for such occurrences. Electrical utilities work to restore the main power plants first, followed by transmission lines, substations, emergency responders, large service areas, and individual homes.

How have hurricanes affected your personal residence? What do you do to prepare for an upcoming storm?

– Allen Hooper

Stay tuned to southwireblog.com for posts about disaster relief efforts.

7 comments

  1. Eric Mason

    Hurricanes are no joke. They often spawn tornadoes. They are extremely destructive. Even with all the warning. There are many Safety measures available but the best is just simply to evacuate. Leave the area. I was in South Florida during Hurricane Andrew in August of 1992. Winds during that storm exceeded 175 MPH. They are not sure just how fast the wind was because all the measuring equipment was blown away. Roofing tiles looked like hundreds of blackbirds taking flight all at once from the roof as they were blown off. These flemsy little pieces of tar and paper became like Ninja weapons as they were flung so fast that they would actually get embedded into concrete walls. Power lines were like gigantic electric eels out of the ocean as they whipped back and forth spewing blue and white sparks that created a strobe effect. That made everything seem like it was flying much slower than it was. Which added to the danger. Nope, hurricanes are no joke!

    • Whitney Agan

      Interesting! Are you talking about the underwater powerlines? I didn’t even think about that. Never realized how the underwater utilities were affected…

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