Houston — More than 3 million customers found themselves without electricity the morning of Oct. 29 due to extreme weather via a strong late-season cyclone Zeta in the Southeast and a bitter ice storm in the southern Great Plains, as workers scrambled to restore service.
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Southern Company utilities in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi were hardest hit, with about 1.2 million customers offline at the height of the storm, according to PowerOutage.us. The hurricane landed around 4 pm CT Oct. 28 near Cocodrie, Louisiana, before swiftly moving northeast and inflicting high winds and rainfall in Virginia by the afternoon of Oct. 29, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
Power demand in the Southern Company's grid for the period from Zeta's landfall until about 2 pm ET Oct. 29 averaged about 6% less than the same period a week prior, and the hours from 6 am to 9 am showed a 12.2% decrease, according to US Energy Information Administration data.
In the southern Great Plains, Oklahoma Gas & Electric and Xcel Energy's West Texas utility had the biggest losses as of about 2:15 pm CT Oct. 29, resulting from an ice storm that began Oct. 26, which OG&E Incident Commander Dallas Rowley said in a tweet had cut service for more than 400,000 customers at some point over the next few days.
OG&E has more than 2,600 workers helping to restore service after that Rowley called a "crippling and frustrating event." In an earlier tweet, OG&E dubbed the storm as the "second worst in our history."
About the same number of people were working Oct. 29 to restore service to Duke Energy utility customers on North and South Carolina, the company said. At the height of the storm's effect on its footprint, more than 500,000 Duke customers were without power, but as mid-afternoon, that number had diminished somewhat to less than 460,000.
Duke was also moving about 650 of its Midwest- and Florida-based repair workers into the affected area to help.