Alabama Power prepared for hurricane season
Hurricane season begins Saturday and runs through Nov. 30. Lately, the season has been kicking off early.
Earlier this month, short-lived subtropical storm Andrea became the first named storm of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. It is the fifth year in a row that the first storm of the season formed prior to June 1.
Whenever storms come, Alabama Power employees are prepared to respond.
“We prepare year-round for storms,” said Bobby Hawthorne, Alabama Power Distribution Engineering Service manager. “Due to our location, we are subject to tornadoes, hurricanes, straight-line wind events and ice and snow. We’ve had all these types of weather events occur in our service territory, so we remain prepared to respond.
“Established emergency response plans have been in place for many years,” Hawthorne continued. “These plans are reviewed and updated on a regular basis to reflect lessons we’ve learned, and lessons learned at other utilities. These updates are based on post-storm critiques and information we’ve learned while assisting other utilities during major storms.”
This year, hurricane forecasters are predicting “near-normal” conditions for 2019, with a 70% chance of nine to 15 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher. Of those, four to eight could become hurricanes, including two to four "major" hurricanes that reach Category 3 or higher.
Many utilities, including Alabama Power, have agreements for mutual assistance in the event of natural disasters and storms. This is often why convoys of utility vehicles are seen headed to the location of the latest large storm or disaster. The mutual assistance network is a cornerstone of electric utility operations during large storms with widespread outages.
Improvements in technology also are helping improve storm planning and response. “Our integrated distribution management system is becoming smarter and smarter,” Hawthorne said, referring to the core technologies the company uses to gather data on the condition of the grid, during fair weather and foul, including information about outages.
Alabama Power’s smart meters also can assist in times of disaster. Smart meters quickly provide outage information to the company. Using this data, Alabama Power can identify which customers are without power and can verify customers who have had service restored. This information improves the overall efficiency of a restoration effort.
Drone use is another new normal at Alabama Power. Drones can help provide images from hard-to-reach locations for storm evaluation.
While Alabama Power is prepared for hurricane season, this is a good time for customers to review their personal plans for weather emergencies. Here are some tips to help prepare:
Preparing for a hurricane:
During a hurricane:
After a hurricane:
Find more information about storm safety at www.alabamapower.com or visit the National Weather Service Hurricane Preparedness website at https://www.weather.gov/wrn/hurricane-preparedness.