Hurricane Irma has utilities in Florida preparing for high levels of power outages, and officials in the state are planning to shut down two nuclear power plants — Turkey Point and St. Lucie — before the storm arrives, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The storm is one of the largest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic and is projected to make landfall in Florida this weekend.
The hurricane first made landfall in the Caribbean as a Category 5 hurricane with wind speeds of more than 185 mph, making it the second-largest hurricane ever recorded and tied with the 1935 Florida Keys hurricane as the largest Atlantic hurricane to make landfall. States of emergency have been declared for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and 30 counties in Georgia. In Puerto Rico, more than 1 million power outages have been reported.
“As Hurricane Irma approaches Florida, high winds, flooding and storm surge have the potential to affect energy infrastructure such as power plants as well as power transmission and distribution lines,” according to the EIA. In 2005, Hurricane Wilma caused more than 3 million customers of Florida Power and Light, the largest utility in the state, to lose electricity. Hurricane Wilma was the last Category 3 or higher hurricane to make landfall in Florida. In 2016, Hurricane Matthew caused more than 1 million power outages, but it didn’t make direct landfall in the state.
Click here for a map showing existing energy infrastructure with real-time storm information.