Mother Nature took September by storm, blowing in with a vengeance that was largely responsible for knocking out power to more than 17.6 million people over a collective 16 days. In all, Eaton’s Blackout Tracker logged 216 outages, 28 percent of which were weather-related.
Hurricane Irma wallops power lines, infrastructure
Although the total number of power outage events for the month of September was lower than average, their magnitude was massive. Arriving right on the heels of August’s devastating Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma pounded the southeast as it made landfall on Sept. 11. The storm knocked out power to 16 million people, the most of any hurricane on record. Florida bore the brunt of the storm —deemed the most intense Atlantic hurricane to strike the U.S. since Katrina in 2005 — with more than 15 million people left in the dark, representing three-quarters of the state’s population. In addition, some 800,000 people in Georgia and 270,000 in South Carolina were without electricity in the wake of the squall.
A week and a half later, crews were still hard at work on the restoration process, but had managed to reconnect 99 percent of customers. Officials deemed the effort the largest power-restoration process in U.S. history, with power companies having to reestablish entire service areas instead of just specific portions. Preliminary estimates suggest that damages from Hurricane Irma could cost the U.S. upwards of $50 billion.
A Night to Remember — x2
The generosity and quick-thinking of community members prevented a homecoming disaster for not one but two high schools. The Greenfield, Wis., Fire Department came to the rescue of Whitnall High School on Saturday, Sept. 23 when the power went out at the school’s homecoming dance. After hearing about the blackout, firefighters showed up to the dance with all the equipment needed to save the day. They hung up portable lights in the hallways, and relied on generators to bring back the power and music. As a result, students were able to stay and enjoy the last hour of the homecoming dance.
On the same evening, administrators at
Cincinnati’s Lakota East High School also refused to let a little power outage
spoil their homecoming dance. Instead, they improvised and held the event on
the football field. The principal reported that the dance will be one that
students will always remember. “They were pumped. They said, ‘This was awesome,
and there will never be another homecoming like this,’” she revealed.
Power supply goes out to sea
File this one under unusual outage causes: on Sept. 19 a sailboat — yes, a sailboat! — was blamed for knocking out power to 2,575 Consumers Energy customers in Michigan’s Grand Haven Township. The boat’s mast hit an overhead wire in a swampy area on the Lost Channel, resulting in the 75-minute blackout. The boat caught fire and its sole passenger reportedly attempted to put out the fire himself before jumping off the sailboat and swimming to shore.