October 17, 2018

Storm Center Outage Maps Receive 3.1 Million Views for Record-Breaking Hurricane Michael

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael made landfall as the strongest hurricane the U.S. has seen in 50 years. This is the first category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Florida’s panhandle in recorded history. Mainly hitting the Florida panhandle area, the storm caused significant damage to thousands of homes leaving millions without power.

This unprecedented storm had strong winds topping out at 155 mph (250 kph) causing weeks-long power outages. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), water levels reached 9 to 14 feet from Mexico Beach, FL east through Apalachee Bay, FL. The immense strength of Hurricane Michael is due to the fact that it was moving into very warm water, which is somewhat unusual for this late in October.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel dubbed Hurricane Michael a “history-making monster,” which included leaving a record 2.5 million electricity customers without power. Areas affected included Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. Virginia and North Carolina were also affected, and are unfortunately still under repair from the damages of Hurricane Florence.

At the time of writing, Gulf Power has been working around the clock, as well as employing 7,000 extra mutual assistance crews, in order to restore power quickly to their customers. JEA mobilized 10 four-person electric crews, four troubleshooters, two coordinators, support staff, and supplies in the Tallahassee area to help their neighbors affected by the storm. Other utility companies, such as Duke Energy, not only offered helping hands, but also provided financial support to communities and billing assistance for customers affected by Hurricane Michael.

 

Storm Center Outage Map Usage

 

Utility outage maps are an essential tool during and after a major storm. KUBRA has several clients in the affected area with Storm Center outage maps, and the KUBRA support team prepared extensively and worked hard during the storm to ensure that the maps were prepared for the huge increase in traffic. These preparations included checking KUBRA-hosted server health, reviewing both system and application logs; verifying resources are available for any system that might see increased storm traffic; and coordinating 24/7 support plans for increased KUBRA resource availability. Our support teams were on call for urgent actions and closely monitored for submitted tickets to give timely responses.

At the peak of the storm, Storm Center outage maps for KUBRA’s most heavily affected clients totaled more than 3.1 million total views between Wednesday, October 10 and Sunday, October 14. Unsurprisingly, the majority of customers (77%) viewed the maps on mobile devices, 17% on desktops, and about 6% on tablets. These statistics further highlight the importance of mobile-friendly outage maps during a time when access to electricity is very limited.

We have included images of the outage maps taken during the storm below.

 

Notifi Alerts Usage

 

Another source of information during major storms such as Hurricane Michael is the implementation of the KUBRA Notifi alerts and preference management system in the affected areas. Notifi allows customers to receive alerts in the channel of their choice, whether it be text, email, or voice. These alerts were helpful not only during the storm, but before and after as well by keeping customers informed, allowing them to make adequate preparation before the impending storm, and providing updates as the affected utilities made repairs.

Over the course of the hurricane, Notifi implementations sent out one million total messages with about 51% being proactive outage alerts.

 

Outage Map Screenshots

 

Duke Energy

Before
After

Georgia Power

Before
After

 

Gulf Power

Before
After

 

Santee Cooper

Before
After