Saturday, February 24, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Irma's wrath: more than half of Florida still in the dark

Much of Florida will be waking up to a second day in the dark Tuesday after Hurricane Irma's devastating slash through the state.

More than 13 million Floridians — 62 percent of the state — remained without power as of late Monday, state officials said. In Tampa Bay, some of the county numbers were even more jarring: 78 percent of Pinellas households were affected; 71 percent of Pasco; 62 percent of Hernando; 61 percent of Polk and 42 percent of Hillsborough.

Add it up and 1.15 million bay area households, or 61 percent, are grappling without power — outages that may stretch on more than a week for some even though thousands of technicians are pouring in from around the country to help.

COMPLETE COVERAGE:Find all our coverage about Hurricane Irma here

"We're seeing guys fly in from California, and coming from Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, that were all pre-deployed before the storm," said Mike Hyland, senior vice president of engineering with the American Public Power Association, a Washington D.C.-based utility trade group. Hyland anticipates a network of more than 50,000 workers are on their way to Florida, if they're not there already. "Utility companies across the country have raised their hands to help both with Harvey and Irma," he said.

While outages are typically reported in terms of a number of customers, a graphic displayed at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee at 6:30 p.m. tallied the individual count of 13 million to underscore the scope of the problem, with the worst outages centered in southwest Florida.

The most severe damage in Tampa Electric's coverage area happened in Polk County, spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said, where 207,316 people were left without power

 

UPDATES ON POWER OUTAGES

 

Duke Energy | TECO | Florida Power



 

About 1.2 million Duke Energy Florida customers lost power, with Pinellas County hit hardest.

As of 3 p.m., 420,000 Duke customers were still waiting to turn the lights back on.

Harry Sideris, president of Duke Energy Florida, said 9,000 extra utility workers have been dispatched to the company's service area of 35 counties. Of those, 3,000 are dedicated to Pinellas County.

"We have an army of people coming here," Sideris promised.

Still, Sideris cautioned during a Monday afternoon briefing, thousands of Pinellas County residents are facing "maybe a week or a little longer" without power.

Florida Power & Light, which provides electricity to metro areas in South Florida and elsewhere in the state, reported 3.6 million customers without power.

Many Texas residents are still without power weeks after Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston and coastal areas of the state, Hyland said, as a reminder of just how long it can take to get back up and running.

After Hurricane Charley — which pummelled Charlotte County in 2004 as a Category 4 storm — some Floridians went without electricity for weeks. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, it took months.

"When you're a person without power, it's the worst feeling in the world. It's the first step toward normalcy," he said. "There are still people fighting the effects of Harvey and many people in Texas are still without power. Unfortunately Florida is going to be the same. It's too soon to say how long it will take. Crews are only just beginning to assess the damages."

Utility companies prioritize public safety when restoring power. That means hospitals, 911 call centers, law enforcement and water treatment plants are first in line. When it comes to residences, utility companies make repairs in areas that will have the greatest impact first. Duke Energy also takes into account the amount of time an area has been without power, a spokeswoman said.

"We do repairs that will restore the largest amount of customers in the shortest amount of time," said Jacobs with TECO.

As of noon Monday, Tampa Electric had dispatched 800 crew members in the field assessing damages and making repairs. An additional 3,000 technicians from out-of-state — some as far away as Nebraska, Wisconsin and New England — were on the ground already or on the way to help.

Both Tampa Electric and Duke pledged to keep working on restoration as long as it takes.

"We are committed to getting everyone's power on as quickly and safely as possible," said Ana Gibbs, Duke Energy spokeswoman. "We won't stop working until everyone's power is back on."

Times staff writers Divya Kumar and Mark Puente and Times/Herald Bureau reporter Kristen M. Clark contributed to this report. Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected]

Comments
5 dead after tornado, flooding from central US storms

5 dead after tornado, flooding from central US storms

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The death toll rose to at least five on Sunday after severe thunderstorms swept through the central U.S., spawning a tornado that flattened homes, gale force winds and widespread flooding from the Upper Midwest to Appalachia.The s...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Forecast: Tampa Bay’s week of record-breaking highs coming to an end

Forecast: Tampa Bay’s week of record-breaking highs coming to an end

As the week closes out, Tampa Bay can expect continued abnormally high temperatures, a lot of sunshine and just a slight chance of scattered showers.But at least the heat isn’t expected to be record-breaking.For the past four days, the bay area set r...
Published: 02/23/18
‘The sound of death:’ Deadly tornadoes ravage Central Florida in dark (from 1998)

‘The sound of death:’ Deadly tornadoes ravage Central Florida in dark (from 1998)

EDITOR’S NOTE: While many of us were asleep, a string of deadly tornadoes tore through east-central Florida on Feb. 22-23, 1998, destroying homes and resulting in 42 deaths and more than 260 injuries. On the 20th anniversary of that tragedy, here is ...
Published: 02/23/18
Forecast: Warm weather persists in Tampa Bay, but slightly cooler weekend ahead

Forecast: Warm weather persists in Tampa Bay, but slightly cooler weekend ahead

Tampa Bay has broken record high temperatures since Monday, and Thursday should be no different.Happy Thursday! We are rolling through the week and once again temperatures will be near record highs this afternoon. If we break the record high of 85° t...
Published: 02/22/18
Forecast: No end in sight to Tampa Bay’s record-setting heat

Forecast: No end in sight to Tampa Bay’s record-setting heat

A high-pressure system covering central Florida is maintaining record-setting warm temperatures and dry weather across the Tampa Bay, and there is no end in sight.Record highs in the upper 80s were set Tuesday in Sarasota, Tampa Bay and Clearwater. I...
Published: 02/21/18
Forecast: After hottest day of the year, record heat to continue across Tampa Bay

Forecast: After hottest day of the year, record heat to continue across Tampa Bay

Published: 02/20/18
Forecast: Temperatures hover near record highs across Tampa Bay, with little rain

Forecast: Temperatures hover near record highs across Tampa Bay, with little rain

Warm weather will continue this week across Tampa Bay, with temperatures hanging around the low to mid 80s and a low chance of rain for the first half.Early morning fog is sparse across central Florida with some low visibility inland in places such a...
Published: 02/19/18
Forecast: Record-tying high of 84 today in Tampa Bay

Forecast: Record-tying high of 84 today in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURG — What winter? 10News WTSPThe latest Tampa Bay-area radar 10News WTSPFeels-like temperatures around the Tampa Bay areaIt may still be mid February, but this week will already see plenty of sun...
Published: 02/18/18
Forecast: Weekend promises plenty of warmth and sunshine for Tampa Bay

Forecast: Weekend promises plenty of warmth and sunshine for Tampa Bay

A high-pressure system resting atop central Florida will make it difficult for rain to form, spelling a partly cloudy, mostly sunny weekend for the Tampa Bay.Friday morning commuters may see patches of fog, but these will clear up around 9 a.m. and y...
Published: 02/16/18
After fog, mostly sunny skies and warm conditions for Tampa Bay

After fog, mostly sunny skies and warm conditions for Tampa Bay

A thick blanket of fog welcomed early morning commuters in Polk, Hernando and Citrus counties on Thursday morning, prompting a dense fog warning.The fog cover should disperse by around 9:30 a.m., leading to partly cloudy, mostly sunny skies. "It’ll b...
Published: 02/15/18