September 18, 2018
KUBRA Outage Maps Viewed 2.2 Million Times During Hurricane Florence
In September 2018, Hurricane Florence made heavy landfall along the East Coast of the United States. Five states declared a state of emergency ahead of time: North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, and Maryland, along with Washington, D.C. The immense storm brought historic flooding as it stalled over the Carolinas.
After Hurricane Florence settled over North Carolina, the storm was downgraded to a Category 1 storm with winds topping 90 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) issued hurricane and storm surge warnings for the coastal areas of North and South Carolina with North Carolina’s barrier islands expected to see the biggest storm surge – with waves between seven and 11 feet. According to the NHC, the remnants of the hurricane are expected to produce heavy to potentially excessive rainfall in portions of the northern mid-Atlantic states and northeast through southern New England areas, bringing an additional one to two inches of rain with a maximum of four inches possible.
At the height of the storm, the number of KUBRA customers affected by outages reached almost 550,000 with total outages reaching close to 8,000. The outages were mainly concentrated in the Carolinas with a reported total of 200,000 customers without power as of September 18.
In anticipation of the storm, utilities brought on thousands of extra hands to aid in restoring outages. The United States Postal Service (USPS) sent alerts to customers notifying them of potential mailing delays while providing updates on the operating status of delivery units. Utilities hoping to quickly fix the damages after the storm passed ran into obstacles such as downed wires and trees, as well as significant flooding. Social media proved to be an effective way to reach customers by linking to outage maps and alert enrollment, providing pictures and updates on restoration efforts, and offering helpful safety tips about generators and downed wires.
Storm Center Outage Map Usage
Utility outage maps were a key communication tool during and after the storm. KUBRA has several clients in the affected areas and customers used this resource to check overall outages in the area, as well as to check outage statuses and report outages for their property. With customers in the affected areas heavily using Storm Center outage maps, the KUBRA team worked diligently to ensure the maps were prepared for the huge influx of traffic.
As mentioned in our most recent blog post, KUBRA took a proactive approach to help clients prepare for the impact of the hurricane. KUBRA made extra efforts to ensure all systems that are managed for clients in the affected areas were ready to handle the needs caused by the approaching storm. With predicted increased usage of the solutions during and after the storm, KUBRA checked server health, verified resources were available for systems expected to see heightened storm traffic, and prepared 24/7 support plans.
During the widespread outages, customers relied heavily on Storm Center outage maps. The storm’s area of impact heavily affected two KUBRA utility clients which experienced a total of 2.2 million outage map views over the course of the storm. Of those views, 72% came from customers on mobile devices, 18% from customers on desktop devices, and almost 10% from customers on tablets.
To see images of the outage maps taken during the storm, check out the screenshots below.
Notifi Alerts Usage
KUBRA Notifi alerts and preference management systems that were in place in the affected areas provided proactive communications about the storm, its resulting outages, and restoration status. Customers using text messaging were also able to request status updates and report outages.
Storms typically drive high alert enrollments, and this one was no different. Notifi was used before, during, and after the storm to inform users through proactive outage alerts and outage status updates, as well as to accept outage reports.
Outage Map Screenshots
Below are screenshots of the outage maps for our clients in the affected areas at different points in the storm’s cycle.