The beginning of June marked the official start of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, and it is expected to be an “above average season”.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has predicted a 60 percent chance of an “above-normal” hurricane season and just a 10 percent chance of a “below normal” one.
Despite the odds of an above-normal hurricane season, which runs June through November, the forecasters say the intensity of the 2021 season isn’t expected to match that of 2020 - and thank goodness for that because 2020 was a record breaking hurricane season!
This year, it’s anticipated that there will be between 13 to 20 storms with winds of 40mph (64km/h) or greater - with as many as 10 developing into hurricanes. As mentioned, this is classified as an above-average hurricane season, considering that an average hurricane season (based on the NOAA update) produces “14 named storms, of which 7 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes”.
“Although NOAA scientists don’t expect this season to be as busy as last year, it only takes one storm to devastate a community,” Ben Friedman, the acting NOAA administrator, said in a press release.
With that in mind, why is it so important that your utility has a storm response planned for the hurricane season?
The importance of a utility storm response plan during hurricane season
An effective storm response plan is crucial for any utility provider. Not only is it an important aspect of keeping customers who are in immediate danger safe, but it’s also important to those customers who are away from danger and may experience outages indirectly as a result of a storm.
Storm response is all about educating your customers on the current status of a storm, and easing the stress that comes with utility outages. This last point is particularly important now that remote work is so commonplace.
Customers want to know that your utility is proactively trying to solve the situation, they want real-time updates on the status of the outage and they want to know accurate, estimated times on when their utility will be up-and-running again.
The way you handle an outage, and the information you provide to your customers is the difference between poor customer satisfaction and a happy utility customer.
Here are a few tips on how your utility can improve its storm response plan:
- Use smart meters to track customers without power, and use that data to create a live interactive outage map that your customers can view for real-time outage information
- Keep your customers updated on outages with a seamless customer portal solution
- Improve the internal communication between your management team and field workers, helping to speed up the process of fixing outage issues
- Nail your customer service strategy so no customers are left out of the loop.
What should your utility customers do to prepare?
It’s not just utility uptime that you need to be thinking about. As a utility provider, you should be ensuring that your customers have all the knowledge they need to safely prepare for a hurricane.
Here’s a brief checklist a utility provider can send out to their customers to help them prepare for a potential hurricane:
- Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National weather service
- Have a hurricane checklist of everything you need prepared in the event of a hurricane reaching your area
- Have an emergency “go bag” at the ready
- Update your emergency contacts
- Develop an evacuation plan for your family, and evacuate if your area is told to evacuate
- Make sure your car's gas tank is full, in case you need to evacuate in short notice
- Confirm that your insurance premiums are paid and your policies are in force
- Learn about your community’s hurricane response plan
Remember, you can send helpful tips and information out to your customers about preparing for a hurricane, storm or outage alerts using a seamless, easy-to-use customer portal for utilities that can be accessed either through a web browser and/or mobile applications.
Want to learn more about properly preparing your utility for the 2021 hurricane season, and how you can properly educate and communicate with your customers through the use of a customer portal for utilities? Get in touch with SilverBlaze today. We would love to help.