When Mother Nature tries to fool us, we’re ready!


On January 9, our area was ground zero for severe weather. Local forecasters tracked a severe system with the potential for wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour, coastal flooding, tornados, heavy rains, and lightning.

In January.

The fact is - winter storms can be just as dangerous as hurricanes. Maybe even more so because no one expects them.

That’s why Tampa Electric prepares year-round with mock storm drills, continuous training, emergency response plans and investments like our Storm Protection Plan. Our proactive approach helps reduce storm damage, power outage durations and restoration costs. And it helps ensure we continue to deliver 99.98% service reliability in blue skies and gray.

As this January storm demonstrated, the calendar is not always a reliable source for when severe weather will occur.

While the storm was still offshore, our Distribution Control Center and System Restoration Team sprang into action. They stationed more than 20 response crews in each of our service areas and put additional contractors on standby to assist with storm restoration if needed. In the afternoon, as the storm battered our western service area, thousands of customers lost power. Most were restored within minutes, and all were restored within a few hours.

As soon as it was safe, our crews began restoring power as quickly as possible by following our priority restoration plan. First, they restored power to emergency services such as hospitals, police, and fire stations; then, they restored power to the largest number of customers in the shortest amount of time until everyone was back online. 

Unexpected storms demonstrate the importance of staying prepared and hardening our system. That’s why we invest millions in our Storm Protection Plan each year. Our plan reduces power outage durations and restoration costs by:

  • Converting certain overhead lines to underground, up to 100 miles per year.
  • Trimming trees more frequently.
  • Making our system more resilient by raising some equipment or building flood walls.
  • Installing stronger, more storm-resistant poles.

We’re also installing “self-healing” technology that reduces outage durations and costs. This technology automatically isolates outages and routes power around problems without sending a worker into the field. Where this technology is installed, outages and momentary flickers have been reduced by 50 to 60 percent.

Unfortunately, extreme weather can still damage our equipment and cause power outages. If you experience a power outage, you can report it and monitor its status by:

As safety is our top priority, we recommend that you prepare your business early, monitor emergency officials for the latest weather conditions and use extreme caution during and after storms and severe weather. To help your business and employees stay safe, we’ve assembled important tips and resources on common severe weather safety issues, such as avoiding downed power lines, operating generators safely and staying out of floodwaters. Visit our Storm Storm Safety for more information.

Your account manager can also help you make sound business decisions during a storm. When severe weather strikes, your account manager will not be reassigned for storm duty. Once a storm is imminent, account managers work out of our Emergency Control Center and remain dedicated to your business throughout the storm. As such, they help coordinate restoration efforts and communicate accurate, real-time updates to you, when you need them most.

This event was a great reminder that winter storms matter, too. Even though hurricanes capture most of our attention, severe weather can occur at any time. That’s why we must stay vigilant for severe weather year-round. To help you stay prepared, we put everything you need to know in our Storm Center. There, you’ll find preparedness tips and storm resources, access our outage map and our most recent storm brochure.