Hurricane Harvey Power Outages

Major Hurricane Harvey reached category 4 before landfall on the coast of Texas last night. Apart from numerous other forms of damage a large number of properties will lose their supply of electric power over the next few hours and days. In advance of Harvey’s arrival The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT for short) issued a press release, which read as follows:

AUSTIN, TX, Aug. 25, 2017 – The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has issued a weather-related watch in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to make landfall late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

ERCOT anticipates the hurricane may cause damage to infrastructure from high-speed wind, along with significant flooding in the South, South Central and Coastal weather zones in the ERCOT region. This includes the cities of Houston, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Austin and San Antonio. These conditions may cause a number of power outages throughout the ERCOT region.

The ERCOT System Operations team is working 24/7 at ERCOT’s System Control Center, which is built to withstand hurricane-force winds, to monitor the situation and protect overall system reliability. Extra engineering staff will be supporting their efforts throughout the weekend.

ERCOT also has been communicating with transmission and generation owners regarding hurricane preparations. Generation owners are implementing their own hurricane procedures to ensure the safety of their staff and equipment.

ERCOT remains focused on maintaining system reliability throughout the entire ERCOT region. At this time, ERCOT anticipates it will have sufficient generation available during the hurricane, while storm-related damage is expected to result in widespread power outages.

Please visit www.ercot.com/help/harvey for updates throughout the weekend. This site includes Frequently Asked Questions as well as helpful contact information.

Researchers from Michigan, Ohio State and Texas A & M Universities have created a model to predict power outages (as they’re referred to in the United States) resulting from Harvey’s passage. Here’s their current forecast:

Currently over 200,000 properties in Texas are without electric power as a result of Harvey. That number will increase! Here’s some example outage maps at the moment (09:00 UTC):

 

[Edit – August 26th 12:00]

 

[Edit – August 26th 15:00]

ERCOT report via Twitter that:

 

[Edit – August 27th 12:00]

Power outages across Texas dropped below a quarter of a million overnight, but have now risen again to over 260,000. There has been a large increase in the region powered by CenterPoint Energy:

A problem that we’re all too familiar with here in South West England is that power outages can lead to communications outages. The United states’ Federal Communications Commission has issued a report on the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the cellphone infrastructure in Texas:

The following is a report on the status of communications services in geographic areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey as of August 26, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. This report incorporates network outage data submitted by communications providers to the Federal Communications Commission’s Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). DIRS currently covers areas of Texas and Louisiana. Note that the operational status of communications services during a disaster may evolve rapidly, and this report represents a snapshot in time.

While we don’t have reports for all counties yet, there are at least 149,909 subscribers out of service in the affected area. This includes users who get service from cable system or wireline providers. There are 5 switching centers out of service and 38 switching centers on back-up power.

There are 4% of the cell sites down in the affected area. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas, Refugio, and San Patricio in TX. There are no cell sites affected in LA.

The FCC also reports that:

The Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) learns the status of each Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) through the filings of 911 Service Providers in the Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), through reporting done to the FCC’s Public Safety Support Center (PSSC), coordination with state 911 Administrators and, if necessary, individual PSAPs. There are a total of 9 PSAPs affected:

Portland Police Department, TX is down with no re-routes.
Calhoun County Sheriff, TX is up without Automatic Location Information (ALI).
Port Aransas Police Department, TX; Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office, LA; Victoria Police Department, TX; Mathis Police Department, TX; Refugio County Sheriff’s Office, TX; Ingleside Police, TX; and Robstown Police Department, TX have either been re-routed to administrative lines or re-routed to another PSAP.
Cameron Parish Sheriff’s Office and Victoria Police Department have been re-routed with ALI, all other re-routes are without ALI.

There are 5 radio stations out of service: TX – WKNC, KKTX, KUNO, KKWV, and KAYK
There are no TV stations reported as being out of service.

 

[Edit – August 27th 22:30]

There are currently still over 300,000 power outages across Texas. This rainfall radar map shows that the Houston area is still enduring very high rates of precipitation:

 

[Edit – August 28th 09:30]

The number of reported outages has dropped overnight (UTC), but there are still over 250,000 “customers” without electric power in Texas, plus some more in Louisiana. Here’s the current Entergy Texas outage map as Harvey heads back towards the Gulf of Mexico:

The FCC reported yesterday that:

There are a total of 17 (up from 9 yesterday) PSAPs affected:

PSAP down with no re-route: Portland Police Department, TX.
PSAP up without Automatic Location Identification (ALI): Calhoun County Sheriff, TX.
PSAP re-routed without ALI: Aransas County SO, TX; Bee PD, TX; Beeville PD, TX; Kingsville PD, TX; Kleberg County SO, TX; Mathis PD, TX; Port Aransas PD, TX; Refugio County SO, TX; and Ingleside PD, TX.
PSAP re-routed with ALI: Aransas Pass PD, TX; Cameron Parish SO, LA; Richmond PD, TX; Robstown PD, TX; Victoria PD, TX; and Wilson County SO, TX.

There are 4.1% of the cell sites down in the affected area. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas, Calhoun, Refugio, and San Patricio in TX. There are no cell sites affected in LA.

 

[Edit – August 28th 15:00]

Reported outages are heading for 300,000 again whilst Texas wakes up to further flooding as Harvey heads back to the coast:

 

[Edit – August 29th 09:00]

Reported outages have dropped somewhat overnight, as the centre of Tropical Storm Harvey is now over the Gulf of Mexico once again:

Yesterday evening local time ERCOT issued the following statement:

The ERCOT grid continues to be in stable condition following Hurricane Harvey. However, several transmission lines remain out of service, especially near Corpus Christi and Victoria where Hurricane Harvey made landfall.

Two major 345-kV transmission lines serving the Gulf Coast area are still out of service, along with many other high-voltage transmission lines. As of mid-day today, a little more than 6,700 MW of generation capacity, including a very small percentage of renewables, was off-line for reasons related to the storm.

Electricity demand in the days since landfall has been about 20,000 megawatts (MW) below typical August electricity use, peaking at less than 44,000 MW, due to a combination of structural damage along the coast and cooler temperatures in much of the region.

The FCC reported yesterday that:

There are 4.7% of the cell sites down in the affected area, up from 4.1% yesterday. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas, Calhoun, and Refugio in TX. Plaquemines is the only county in LA reporting any cell sites out.

 

[Edit – August 29th 12:00]

As a new day dawns in Texas reported outages are increasing once again. Over 270,000 in Texas plus ~5,000 so far in Lousiana:

 

[Edit – August 30th 10:00]

The latest forecast from the United States’ National Hurricane Center shows that at long last Harvey will move inland and dissipate:

Rainfall radar reveals that the rain has stopped falling over Houston:

The power outages continue however. There’s still over a quarter of a million properties without power in Texas, with a few thousand more in both Louisiana and Mississippi. Whilst we wait to see when the number of outages starts to reduce significantly, here’s a rainfall radar animation of Harvey’s progress so far:

The FCC reported yesterday that:

There are 4.7% of the cell sites down in the affected area, the same as yesterday. The counties with greater than 50% of cell sites out are Aransas and Refugio in Texas. In Louisiana, Calcasieu, St. John the Baptist, and Terrebonne are the only parishes to report any cell site outages, with each having only one cell site out.

 

[Edit – August 30th 15:00]

Power outages due to ex Hurricane Harvey are back up over 300,000:

Watch this space!

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