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Power outages pass a half-million in Tampa Bay area from Hurricane Ian

Nearly 509,000 customers were without power across the area as of 4 a.m. Thursday.
Aerial view of people that stopped along Bayshore Blvd. to see the effects of Hurricane Ian which produced a reverse storm surge, pulling water out of Hillsborough Bay on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Tampa.
Aerial view of people that stopped along Bayshore Blvd. to see the effects of Hurricane Ian which produced a reverse storm surge, pulling water out of Hillsborough Bay on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]
Published Sep. 28|Updated Sep. 29

More than a half-million customers in Tampa Bay area communities were without power early Thursday morning as Hurricane Ian rolled through Central Florida.

As of 4 a.m., there were nearly 508,549 outages reported in areas that include Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties. Outage numbers steadily increased all day Wednesday and into Thursday morning.

Related: Thursday live updates: Tampa Bay wakes up after Hurricane Ian’s landfall

Duke Energy reported 190,984 customers without power in Pinellas County and another 25,945 in Pasco. That’s about 34% of company’s customers in Pinellas and about 16% of its customers in Pasco.

Tampa Electric Co. reported more than 291,620 customers without power in their coverage area, which includes Hillsborough County. That is roughly 36% of TECO’s customers.

Large outages were reported throughout Wednesday in Apollo Beach, Sun City Center, Brandon, Riverview, Plant City, Seffner and Tampa.

Related: ‘It was just blasting us for hours’: Cape Coral, Fort Myers flooded by Ian

With wind speeds increasing beyond 40 mph, power crews took shelter for their safety, according to a statement on the Tampa Electric website. Tampa Electric’s crews will work “around the clock” to restore power once the winds from the storm are below 40 mph, according to a news release. The company advised customers to prepare for extended outages.

Spectrum Bay News 9 reported wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour in Tampa by 7:30 p.m.

Tampa Electric has marshaled thousands of workers, including line crews, damage assessors and tree trimmers, to help restore power once the storm has passed. It’s part of being a member of the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a network of utilities that support each other in emergencies, according to a news release. Crews were expected from more than a dozen states including Indiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Related: Section of Sanibel Causeway wiped out by Hurricane Ian

A Duke Energy spokesperson said the company’s safety threshold for winds is 35 mph, but that its crews continue to work in areas where it is safe to do so.

Times Staff Writers Sue Carlton and Matt Cohen contributed to this report.

• • •

2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT THE HURRICANE: A school mental health expert says to let them know what’s happening, keep a routine and stay calm.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SHELTER: What to bring — and not bring — plus information on pets, keeping it civil and more.

SAFEGUARD YOUR HOME: Storms and property damage go hand in hand. Here’s how to prepare.

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits

PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

PART 1: The Tampa Bay Times partnered with the National Hurricane Center for a revealing look at future storms.

PART 2: Even weak hurricanes can cause huge storm surges. Experts say people don't understand the risk.

PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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