August 28, 2011
Irene Weakens to Tropical Storm Force, but Millions of Lights are Still Out
In their interim 9 AM EDT public advisory bulletin the National Hurricane Centre said that:
CENTER OF IRENE MOVES OVER NEW YORK CITY
REPORTS FROM AN AIR FORCE HURRICANE HUNTER AIRCRAFT AND NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATE THAT THE CENTER OF IRENE MOVED OVER NEW YORK CITY AROUND 900 AM EDT, 1300 UTC. IRENE HAS WEAKENED TO A TROPICAL STORM AND THE ESTIMATED INTENSITY AT LANDFALL WAS 65 MPH
By 11 AM the NHC were reporting that:
MAXIMUM SUSTAINED WINDS ARE NEAR 60 MPH WITH HIGHER GUSTS. IRENE IS FORECAST TO WEAKEN AND BECOME A POST-TROPICAL CYCLONE BY TONIGHT.
TROPICAL STORM FORCE WINDS EXTEND OUTWARD UP TO 320 MILES FROM THE CENTER. ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE IS 966 MB…28.53 INCHES. CENTRAL PARK IN NEW YORK CITY REPORTED 966.5 MB…28.54 AS THE CENTER PASSED THIS MORNING.
The danger is now dissipating over southern New England, but millions of people are still without power, and a long wait to have it restored will now ensue for many of them. A hasty trawl around the utilities websites reveals the following statistics:
At 7:00 AM today Con Edison reported that:
72,000 customers in New York City and Westchester County have lost electrical service because of severe winds resulting from Hurricane Irene. As the weather system continues to move toward New York, the number of affected customers is expected to grow.
At 7:30 AM today Pepco reported that in Washington:
Damage to the electrical infrastructure has been extensive up and down the East Coast. As of 7:30 a.m., approximately 194,000 Pepco customers were without power. This is reduced from 220,000 customers without power earlier during the storm.
At 9:00 AM today Progress Energy reported that in North Carolina:
Progress Energy has restored service to thousands of customers who lost power in the wake of Hurricane Irene, and more than 1,200 utility workers and tree crews – now four times the normal complement – are taking aim on approximately 176,000 customers still without power as of 9 a.m.
The highest number of outages at any one time was estimated at approximately 280,000 around 2 p.m. Saturday. The actual number of customers who experienced outages at one time or another during the storm was significantly higher. In fact, since noon on Friday, Aug. 26, as the first bands of Hurricane Irene reached the Carolinas, more than 440,000 customers have lost power for varying periods.
At 10:34 AM today the Long Island Power Authority outage map showed "437,183 affected customers".
At 10:30 AM today Dominion reported that in Virginia and North Carolina:
Dominion crews in Virginia and North Carolina are assessing damage and working with local emergency personnel today to return electrical service to 1.2 million customers, focusing first on public health and safety facilities. The Hurricane Irene restoration effort is the company's second largest behind only Hurricane Isabel.
and also released this video:
At 10:51 AM today the Delmarva Power outage map showed "121,253 affected customers" in Delaware and Maryland.
At 11:30 AM today the Atlantic City Electric outage map showed "90,987 affected customers" in southern New Jersey.
At 11:58 AM today the National Grid outage map showed "122,361 affected customers" in Massachusetts.
During my initial "straw poll" some of the utilities websites I tried appeared not to be functioning properly, perhaps suffering under the weight of requests. Those that did respond reveal a total of 2,413,784 customers without power. The total number of people without power along the eastern seaboard of the United States of America this afternoon is obviously very much larger than that.
A proportion of those outages may in part be due to an "unusual event" which occurred at Constellation Energy's Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland. According to Constellation's press release earlier today
The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant Unit 1 operated by Constellation Energy Nuclear Group (CENG) automatically went off line late Saturday after a piece of aluminum siding propelled by wind gusts hit the nuclear facility's main transformer. Calvert Cliffs Unit 2 remains at 100 percent power.
All safety systems operated as designed when Unit 1 automatically went off line. As required by federal regulations, CENG declared an Unusual Event (UE) at 11:02 p.m. Saturday; a UE is the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The UE presents no threat to public health or safety.
Currently Associated Press is reporting that:
Hurricane Irene had led to the deaths of 14 people in six states as of Sunday morning.
Filed under Disasters by