Below is a roundup of the most significant weather-related outages of 2021:
From an unprecedented Texas ice storm to a hurricane that left some Louisiana residents powerless for a month, Mother Nature left no corner of North America unscathed. As these significant storms left millions of outages in their wake, Eaton captured the most severe. We know the devastation they can cause both personally and professionally. Our thoughts are with all that have been touched by such events.
1. A Texas-sized polar vortex
More than 4.5 million homes and businesses were left in the dark the week of Feb. 15 after an unprecedented ice storm blasted the state, necessitating widespread rolling blackouts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said the state’s power grid was "seconds or minutes away” from a complete failure when partial shutdowns were implemented. The massive failure resulted in an economic toll exceeding $130 billion, and was blamed for the deaths of at least 210 people ── with some estimates as high as 702. Texas had previously isolated from major national grids to deregulate its energy sector, which made it difficult for the state to import electricity from other states during the crisis.
2. Ravaging Ida
Hurricane Ida walloped the South on August 29 as a Category 4 storm, damaging some 30,000 utility poles, more than 36,000 spans of wire and nearly 6,000 transformers. The storm, which caused more damage than Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Delta and Zeta, left 1.2 million customers throughout the country without power as it made its way into the Northeast. While Louisiana was the hardest hit state ── with some customers still in the dark 15 days later ── blackouts from the hurricane extended as far north as Massachusetts.
3. Thunderous blackouts
More than 1 million customers across Michigan woke up without electricity August 11 after fast-moving thunderstorms wreaked havoc across the state. Winds as high as 70 mph toppled trees, limbs and power lines, leading to widespread damage to utility equipment, including more than 3,000 downed power lines. Customers in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana were also impacted by the round of storms, and about 550,000 customers were still waiting to have electricity restored nearly two days later.
4. Terrifying twisters
A powerful storm system of at least 21 tornadoes swept through the central U.S. on Dec. 15, leaving at least five people dead and 406,000 without power in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, Colorado and Missouri. High winds combined with record-breaking warm temperatures to fuel wildfires and knock down power lines, creating Minnesota’s first tornado on record in December, as well as a record for the most hurricane-force winds of 75 mph or higher in a single day since 2004.
5. You wind some, you lose some
Restoration was expected to take days after a windstorm knocked out power to more than a half-million people across Washington’s Puget Sound region on Jan. 13. An additional 220,000 customers were impacted across British Columbia.
6. Coastal chaos
Nearly 500,000 Massachusetts homes and businesses were left without power Oct. 19 after a storm battered the state’s coastal communities with wind gusts as high as 94 miles per hour. Four days later, more than 50,000 customers remained in the dark after winds tore trees from the ground, dropped branches and utility poles, pushed boats aground and picked up a small plane tethered down at an airport.
7. Sweeping away the power supply
Some Montreal-area residents remained without power for more than two days after a windstorm swept through the province on Dec. 11. Although electricity was returned to most of the 400,000+ customers who lost power, it took time for utility crews to assess and repair some of the outlying areas.
8. Icing out electricity
A three-day snow and ice storm knocked out power to more than 350,000 Oregon residents on Feb. 12, prompting the governor to call in the National Guard to go door-to-door in areas hardest hit to make sure residents had enough food and water. About 60,000 people remained without power a week after the storm first swept into the greater Portland area. At least four people died from carbon monoxide poisoning after using propane heaters, grills or generators inside their homes to keep warm.
9. Outages, as sure as the wind blows
A two-day windstorm that fanned brush fires and toppled trees left 286,000 Californians without power across the state Jan. 20-21. Winds in excess of 50 mph impacted the northern part of the state, while hurricane-force gusts of around 85 mph hit San Diego County. While thousands of outages resulted from wind damage, others were initiated as public safety power shutoffs, intended to prevent sparks from downed or damaged equipment from starting fires. At least 15,000 customers in Southern California and 5,000 in the northern and central areas of the state were intentionally shut off, with preliminary reports showing that at least 125 power poles and 125 transformers had been damaged.
10. Taking a rain check on power
More than 140,000 California residents endured power outages following a weekend storm Oct. 23-24. The utility reported major damage from the atmospheric river that brought down trees and power lines during one of the most potent storms to hit Northern and Central California in over a decade. Some businesses remained in the dark for three days, forcing them to shut down.
11. No tropical delight
Although Tropical Storm Henri weakened as it moved inland after making landfall on August 22, the wild weather left at least 140,000 outages in its wake, cutting power to residents from New Jersey to Maine. The following morning, more than 60,000 customers remained without electricity.
12. Botched equipment
A transmission circuit failure was blamed for an August 21 blackout that impacted nearly 130,000 homes on Vancouver Island. Homes on both the southern and northern parts of the island were impacted.
13. Storm central
More than 125,000 customers in Michigan were without power July 24 after a series of severe storms and possible tornadoes tore through the state. Most of the outages were concentrated in the Detroit area in Oakland and Wayne counties.
14. Raining on their parade
Rain and wind that moved through metro Detroit on Sept. 21 DTE says the rain and wind moving through metro Detroit since Tuesday left around 121,000 people in the dark as of 9:30 p.m. Wednesday. That number has gone down since then, with DTE's outage map showing over 89,000 people without power as of 10:30 p.m. DTE says this was the 12th storm to impact more than 25,000 customers in three months.
15. Hurricane havoc
Slamming onto shore as a Category 1 hurricane on Sept. 12, Nicholas left more than 100,000 customers along the Texas coastline without power. Complete restoration took days in some areas as Nicholas, downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, moved east near Port Arthur toward Louisiana.