Texas-sized power outage possible in Hawaii during hurricane season

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A wave of winter storms has left millions of Texans without power in freezing temperatures and conditions are leaving a massive impact on heating and food supply chains. Some have been without power for four days, something that Hawaiian Electric (HECO) says could happen in the islands with a severe hurricane.

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Texas is one of only three states in the nation isolated on their own power grid without the possibility of help from other states, joining Alaska and Hawaii.

While Hawaii will not be hit by blizzards, there are other natural disasters to consider — especially hurricanes.

HECO says they run year-round operations planning for disasters, including running drills and paying close attention to problematic locations.

“No electric grid is hurricane-proof,” said HECO Corporate Communications Manager Shannon Tangonan. “If we have a catastrophic hurricane, there will be outages. We have emergency plans in place, and we continually upgrade and harden our grid.”

Problems in Texas are mostly due to frozen natural gas pipelines that deliver fuel to power plants. HECO says Hawaii would not have a problem generating electricity.

“Our greatest challenge in a storm isn’t keeping the power plants running. It’s the high winds that can damage the transmission and distribution system that delivers power to homes and businesses,” Tangonan said.

The state is expected to host storms this week and the City and County of Honolulu says it is preparing already.

“DFM’s Division of Road Maintenance has had its 8 districts across Oahu taking a look at the various stream and drainage choke points within their districts in preparation of the possible heavy rains and flooding concerns. Heavy equipment and vehicles responding to emergencies have been topped off with fuel in case the resources are asked to respond to emergencies in the next couple days. These are the standard City responses to news of possible bad weather,” Honolulu Division of Facility Maintenance acting deputy director Tyler Sugihara said.

Residents are also able to help by keeping their homes weatherproof.

Move objects indoors in advance to keep flying debris out of power lines during a storm.

Make sure trees near power lines on the property are trimmed appropriately and safely by calling an arborist.

The first order of business at home can be making sure hurricane clips are installed.

“Every house in the state should have hurricane clips or roof to wall ties. It’s not that hard to do,” said Homeowners Guide to Prepare for Natural Hazards co-author Dennis Hwang.

That keeps roofs from blowing off of homes, like Oahu saw last month during a storm.

“The winds were only 60 miles per hour and that roof blew off. That is why we have roof to wall ties,” Hwang said.

The most important thing is making sure supplies have been prepared for 14 days, including food and a gallon of water per-person per-day. That is 56 gallons for a family of four.

“If you go to Costco or Sam’s Club or one of the stores and you get a case of water that’s usually five to six gallons of water in a case, so it’s hard to imagine you would need like 10 cases,” Hwang said.

There are ways to get creative when a storm is incoming.

“There are a lot of things you can do, you can use garbage cans or clear out some cans or barrels,” Hwang said.

The Homeowners Guide to Prepare for Natural Hazards is full of tips on how to prepare for a multitude of disasters. It can be seen in its entirety by clicking here.

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