Alabama near the top for major weather-related power outages

Major outages due to weather have increased substantially since 2000
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:39 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Power outages are annoying, frustrating and an inconvenience. Unfortunately they can happen at any time for a variety of different reasons. The most common reason? Significant weather events like severe weather, winter storms, tropical cyclones, and extreme heat. Those actually accounted for 83% of all reported power outages between 2000 and 2021.

It just so happens that Alabama -- and the rest of the Southeast -- sees plenty of those kinds of weather phenomena over the course of a year. As you know, we are no stranger to tornadoes, damaging wind, hail, tropical cyclones, extreme heat, and an occasional winter weather event. And these all seem to be happening more frequently since 2000.

That’s why the Southeast leads all other parts of the U.S. for total major power outages dating back to 2000 with 474. The Midwest and Northeast follow behind with 363 and 346, respectively. These numbers are provided courtesy of a new report by Climate Central.

Major power outage events in the U.S. have increased substantially this century.
Major power outage events in the U.S. have increased substantially this century.(Climate Central)

On a state level, Texas ranks first in the U.S. for major power outages over the last two decades. Michigan, California, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania round out the top five. Alabama isn’t given an exact rank, but is in the top 13 based on the map above.

There were 1,542 weather-related major power outages between 2000 and 2021. Alabama was affected by 60-100 of those according to Climate Central. That averages out to roughly three to five major power outage events per year in the state.

Major power outage events have become much more common since 2000.
Major power outage events have become much more common since 2000.(Climate Central)

With these weather-related outages occurring more often across the U.S. since the turn of the century, it’s imperative to adjust and be ready to respond. That’s why new technologies surrounding power grids and electricity have been studied and developed. More has to be done though. It’s clear with each major power outage event to happen that the U.S. is still vulnerable to power grid issues.

So in addition to advancing electricity technologies forward, more work has to be done on the preparation front. Climate Central refers to this as hardening the grid, or taking measures to fortify the system against damage.

Examples of these measures include trimming trees near powerlines and burying overhead transmission lines. Even if we do as much as possible, it is impossible to completely rid every state of weather-related power outage events. It’s certainly possible to at least lower the numbers we’ve seen since 2000, but there will always be power outages to some degree.

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