Forecasters say that hurricane season 2021 will not likely match the hyper-active 2020 season, but will still need our attention. You may remember that last year had 30 named storms in the Atlantic, a record. Forecasters give 2021 a 60% chance of having above normal activity.

National Weather Service hurricane prep guide

For many utilities that theme in the past few years has been resilience. That means that they have been strengthening – or hardening – their systems and preparing employees for harsh weather to reduce outages.

Some examples…

Florida Power and Light Co. (FPL), which is part of NextEra Energy, does year-round employee training. The company has week-long drills with more than 3,000 employees. This year’s exercise tested employee response to a simulated two-landfall hurricane with Gulf Power, which serves northwest Florida and is now part of FPL. The drill also incorporated pandemic protocols. (Source)

An NBC story in Virginia reported how Dominion Energy looks at the way trees can cause power outages. The report features a Dominion forestry coordinator, who says, “Predominately we have a lot of oak trees growing around here. Oak trees typically have a very wide flat root system, as well as a wide canopy, so those trees can be susceptible to failing in storms.”

Duke Energy has converted many wooden transmission poles to steel poles in Brunswick County, N.C., and strengthened poles at Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach to withstand hurricane-force winds. If the pole can withstand a Category 3 hurricane, it can potentially stay in service longer and is easier to restore power because line workers don’t have to replace it.

The company is also installing smart equipment and self-healing technology that can automatically detect power outages and restore service faster. Self-healing technology helped to avoid nearly 600,000 extended customer outages in North Carolina,  South Carolina and Florida in 2020, saving more than 1 million hours of total outage time. Over the next few years, Duke Energy expects to install enough self-healing technology to serve most customers. The photo from Duke shows part of the self-healing infrastructure on a pole.

In Virginia, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance has a reminder that may be useful no matter where you live.” Review insurance policies with your agent now to make sure of the coverage needed if a hurricane or other disaster strikes. One of the commissioners said, “Assess your risk and make sure you have the coverage you need to repair or replace your home and property if they are damaged or destroyed during a hurricane or other disaster.”

Even areas hundreds of miles inland from the coast can experience damage. In fact, most hurricane damage comes from flooding, not high winds. Even minor floods can cause extensive damage to your home, business or belongings.

The SCC encourages policyholders to prepare a complete inventory of their personal property including photographs, videotapes and serial numbers. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ free smartphone app – myHOME Scr.APP.book – may help. The NAIC Home Inventory App features the ability to: 1) Group belongings by category, 2) Scan barcodes for accuracy, 3) Upload and export photos with ease, 4) Find disaster preparation advice.

Just because there is no hurricane threat at the moment does not mean it will be okay in a week or a month. Preparation is a key to safety.