The Great Storm Henry Blackout Saga

Regular readers will realise that here at V2G UK we take an unhealthy interest in power cuts, or outages as they call them on the other side of the Atlantic. Not least that’s because we suffered an extended lack of mains electricity ourselves not so very long ago!

We recently followed the progress of the controversially named “Storm Jonas” along the eastern seaboard of the United States using helpful information provided online by Distribution System Operators (DSO using the generic term, or ISO if you’re from the US!) such as Duke Energy. Here’s an example:

Since “Storm Henry” was officially named by the UK’s Met Office a couple of days ago, and is due to arrive over on this side of the North Atlantic today, we thought we’d undertake a similar exercise for the western seaboard of the United Kingdom this week. However there is a fly in the blackout ointment. After perusing the web sites of the Distribution Network Operators (DNO in the Queen’s English) most likely to be affected by Storm Henry it seems none of them provide the summary information available in the top left hand corner of Duke Energy’s power outage map, including in particular “Active outages” and “Affected customers”.

Following some conversations with the DNOs on Twitter it appears as though we’ll need to keep track of a set of press releases to try and keep real-time tabs on the forthcoming Great British Blackouts. The first of these that we’ll bring to your attention is from Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD for short), the Scottish portion of Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution (SSEPD for short):

Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) has moved to Yellow Alert after closely monitoring the development of high winds.

Our weather models anticipate Storm Henry will bring wind speeds over 90 mph in the Western Isles and Skye. All other parts of our network area will see winds reach 70-90 mph.

We have frontline and support staff standing by and we have engineers in the areas we expect to be hit by the storm.

Our customer service team has been making outbound calls to customers on our Priority Service Register in the affected areas to alert them and offer extra assistance, where required.

Members of the public should not approach fallen or damaged power lines, which may still be live.

Whilst we wait for the full force of Storm Henry to hit, here’s how the SHEPD live power cut map looks at lunchtime on Monday February 1st 2016:

11 thoughts on “The Great Storm Henry Blackout Saga

  1. SHEPD have been good enough to inform me via Twitter that they are now officially on “Red Alert“:

    Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) moves to Red Alert status as Storm Henry threatens to cause disruption across much of Scotland.

    With gale force winds of more than 90 mph expected across the Western Isles, North West Highlands, Skye and Argyll, SHEPD has deployed an additional 200 engineering and technical staff across areas most likely to be affected by the extreme weather.

    As well as strong winds, high sea swells are expected to cause flooding along coastal roads in these areas. As a precautionary measure, SHEPD has moved resources and engineers to islands that could be cut off if ferry sailings are cancelled.

    Additional advisors are on duty in our customer services centre, and welfare teams have been contacting vulnerable customers to see if they need extra assistance if there were to be a power cut. Other parts of SHEPD’s network area are likely to experience winds of around 80 mph through Monday night and into Tuesday morning.

    Here’s the current GFS wind forecast for the UK at 13:00 UTC, courtesy of MeteoCiel:

  2. SSEPD have released a couple of videos about their preparations for Henry’s imminent arrival:

    Preparing for Storm Henry from SSEPD on Vimeo.

    Engineers being deployed from SSEPD on Vimeo.

    They have also announced that:

    We’ve moved some resources and engineers to islands that could be cut off if ferry sailings are cancelled.

    Their power cut map seems to filling up, but I’ve currently got no idea how many of their customers are currently without power:

    According to GridWatch UK, wind turbines are currently generating 5 GW, almost 12% of the UK’s current electricity demand:

  3. Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE Networks for short) have now issed a press release:

    Following the severe weather forecast for severe gales with gusts of 70mph this afternoon and evening, Northern Ireland Electricity Networks (NIE Networks) has warned of a possibility of damage to the electricity network, especially in exposed and coastal locations.

    NIE Networks has initiated an escalation plan and has emergency crews, engineers and call handlers on stand-by.

    We would like to remind customers that if they do lose electricity supplies they should report a fault online or call the NIE Networks Customer Helpline on 03457 643 643. Customers can also follow us on Twitter @NIElectricity for regular updates.

    Julia Carson, NIE Networks Communications Manager, says: “The forecast for Storm Henry is similar to the weather we experienced last Friday, once again focusing on the west, north and north east of the country. If there is any damage to our network from severe weather, we are prepared and in position to get customers back on supply as quickly as humanly possible, consistent with safety, and to keep our customers regularly updated and informed.

    “We are particularly keen to stress our regular safety message that on no account should anyone ever approach a broken pole or electricity line. Keep away and report the damage immediately to NIE Networks on 03457 643 643.”

    Further updates will be issued as the weather front progresses.

  4. As Storm Henry draws ever closer, here’s the surface level pressure chart for 18:00 this evening:

    Note the hurricane force winds. Here also is SHEPD’s current power cut map:

    plus the current state of the largest UK electricity generators:

  5. The morning after the night before, here’s how SHEPD’s power cut map looks:

    They report on their web site that:

    We have restored power to 9,000 customers since the start of Storm Henry.
    Currently 2,000 customers remain off power. Our engineers are continuing to work hard to resore their supply.

    and provide this video update on overnight events:

    This morning wind turbines are generating 14.5% of the nations electricity:

  6. SP Energy Networks (a subsidiary of Scottish Power) issued a statement on their web site at 9:00 this morning in which they say:

    Storm Henry continued throughout the night with wind speeds reaching 65mph across Central & Southern Scotland and North Wales. Despite the high winds over a sustained period of time, our specialist repair teams have managed to restore supplies to over 13,000 customers and will continue to restore power for the small number of customers that continue to be impacted this morning.

    Our dedicated faults and emergency call centre staff will remain available to support our customers who remain without power, providing them with up to date information and safety advice.

    The Met Office continue to have a yellow “be prepared” warning in place for the remainder of this morning covering most of the North West of the country. As such, we will continue to monitor the weather forecast and have ensured we have additional staff available if required.

  7. SHEPD have published their own wind forecast for lunchtime today, as Strom Henry heads for Scandinavia:

    They add that:

    Storm Henry’s gale force winds are starting to reduce. While wind speeds remain high we expect them to weaken during the day.

    Our engineers will continue to work throughout the day to restore supplies to the properties impacted by Storm Henry.

    We have deployed welfare vans to areas impacted by Storm Henry.

    We have vans at Kinlochard Village Hall serving food and drinks and another at Elgol Village Hall, Skye.

    We will provide further updates on locations once they become available.

  8. SHEPD have just informed me that there was a misprint in my previous comment:

    The up to date details for all welfare are as follows:

    • Kirkton of Glenisla – Glenisla Hotel
    • Isle of Raasay – Raasay House Hotel
    • Elgol – Catering van set up outside Elgol Village Hall
  9. Our BT broadband connection is down at the moment. Maybe it’s Storm Henry’s fault?! The line’s OK, because if I call BT Support I can hear a canned message that tells me “The telephone network is busy. Please try again later. You have not been charged for this call”. That’s nice of them, since I dialled an 0800 number! Via a somewhat sluggish backup connection, here’s the latest Storm Henry news.

    SHEPD issued another press release some time ago, which read:

    Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution has downgraded its operational status from red to yellow alert as weather conditions begin to improve across Scotland.

    Since this morning SHEPD has restored supplies to 10,500 customers. The number of customers without power across our entire operating area currently stands at 1500, and we are aiming have their supply restored today.

    SHEPD would like to thank customers for their patience and understanding over the past few days, as two storms, Gertrude and Henry, swept across our operating area, disrupting power supplies.

    Here’s some more videos from SHEPD about their recent power restoration activities:

    and here’s the current UK electricity generation mix:

    P.S. It seems we’re not the only ones who’ve had BT broadband issues today:

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/feb/02/bt-broadband-phone-network-down-uk-areas-birmingham-london-sheffield

  10. As Storm Henry fades into the distance, here’s the very latest “Tweet” from Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution:

    The UK branch of Danish company Dong energy have just announced that:

    DONG Energy will build the giant Hornsea Project One offshore wind farm, capable of powering well over 1 million UK homes, off the Yorkshire coast after taking a final investment decision today.

    With a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts (GW), Hornsea Project One will be the world’s first offshore wind farm to exceed 1 GW in capacity and will become – by a considerable margin – the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

    Here’s the UK’s current generation mix (excluding lots of solar PV!):

    By the way, here’s the United States’ National Weather Service’s Ocean Prediction Center’s North Atlantic surface level pressure forecast for the coming weekend:

    Is #StormImogen already brewing on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean as we speak?

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