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.
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.
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.
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.
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2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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