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Power News

Hurricane Maria Knocks Out Power To Entire Island of Puerto Rico (cnn.com) 72

An anonymous reader writes: Hurricane Maria's eye has left Puerto Rico, but the mammoth storm is still lashing the island with devastating winds. Maria weakened to a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, hurling winds of 115 mph. But hurricane-force gusts topping 74 mph still extend over much of Puerto Rico, the National Hurricane Center said. Maria's brute force wiped out electricity to the entire island. "We are 100% without power," a spokesman for the Puerto Rico governor's office said Wednesday. The storm also ripped trees out of the ground and caused widespread flooding. "This is total devastation," said Carlos Mercader, a spokesman for Puerto Rico's governor. "Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same. ... This is something of historic proportions." Maria is expected to dump a total of 12 to 18 inches of rain on Puerto Rico before barreling toward the Dominican Republic starting Wednesday night.
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Hurricane Maria Knocks Out Power To Entire Island of Puerto Rico

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  • The cat3 hurricane ENGULFED THE ENTIRE ISLAND.
    Real news would've been all the power staying on!
  • by Pikoro ( 844299 ) <initNO@SPAMinit.sh> on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @02:48PM (#55233591) Homepage Journal

    "We are 100% without power," a spokesman for the Puerto Rico governor's office said Wednesday.

    How did they get this quote? RFC 1149?

  • It's Pretty Bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by apoc.famine ( 621563 ) <apoc.famine@gmai ... minus physicist> on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @03:03PM (#55233713) Journal

    Got family there, and they went out of communication around 4am. Pictures coming out from their city show some massive destruction, which looks pretty widespread across the island. It's going to take a long time for them to recover from this.

    San Juan still didn't have power in parts due to Irma when this one hit. I wonder how long it's going to take to restore power after this. Months, at least.

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Depends on whether or not the transmission towers stood up or not. If they did, a street can be rewired in a couple of days or less depending on the number of people working. For underground systems, it's more of a case to make sure that junctions are dry, not corroding and the transformers don't go when they're repowered. When we had the ice storm in '88, that's where power went down and stayed down for months. 1000+ transmission towers had to be rebuilt from scratch, new foundations laid, all the cabl

  • Anyone with a modern 2010 or later house built to hurricane standards and a Tesla solar roof and Tesla storage batteries, by definition, has full power.

    I think you meant to say "grid electricity to Puerto Rico will be offline for 4-6 months".

    Even people with wind power could have taken the wind turbine housing inside during the storm and put it back up after it passed. It's a fairly simple operation.

    Same goes for generators - you take it inside a secure location built to hurricane standards until after it p

    • I think that's the major issue. The vast majority of homes and buildings in Puerto Rico are not built to code. In fact, many were built illegally due to cost issues. Sure, there are going to be some rich people with homes that have their own generators and/or solar panels. But the vast majority of the population is screwed.
      • And resorts. Most resorts have both backup generators and solar/wind that can be taken offline and put back up.

        So the 100 percent no power claim is, by definition, false. The grid failed. The grid is offline. There are buildings and residences and commercial properties with power.

    • Anyone with a modern 2010 or later house built to hurricane standards and a Tesla solar roof and Tesla storage batteries, by definition, has full power.

      That's assuming you still have a roof. Even if you do, I'm dubious that the solar cells would still work.

      • Again, you have to build and anchor the grids/arrays. If the walls go, you have non-hurricane construction, so it wouldn't support roof solar. If you built for 125 kph winds, having 215 kph winds means some roofs and walls will fail, and debris may impact the cells. The Tesla roof solar units are fairly durable, and if built to the proper standard, should be fine, but if a tree moving at speed hits it, will take damage.

        People with small scale portable solar PV or portable wind turbines can dismount them and

  • Please remember that Puerto Rico is our responsibility. This something we need to be talking about.
    • Please remember that Puerto Rico is our responsibility. This something we need to be talking about.

      How about we pull all of our troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and send them to Puerto Rico to help rebuild instead?

  • A lot of Puerto Rico's electrical network is badly neglected. Much of the system is suspended on old fashioned post-war power poles and overloaded with too many cables. It looks like something [google.com] from 19th century New York. None of this is terribly surprising: it's a government run power system that is absurdly dysfunctional [nytimes.com].

    The whole thing fell over. Big surprise. Not.

    • Since when did they have concrete utility poles in 19th-century New York?

      Seriously. This isn't a street view of some backwards country... it's the street view of a commercial neighborhood in a big city where the power company is in the middle of replacing old wood utility poles with new concrete poles & simply hasn't taken down the old poles and wires yet.

      When FPL upgraded poles in Florida, lots of OUR streets looked EXACTLY like that for a year or more. The old wires didn't come down for months, and I

      • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

        commercial neighborhood in a big city

        Well run power utilities don't use poles in urban areas any more. Concrete or otherwise. Figuring out how this is lost on hurricane prone Puerto Rico or whatever mismanaged part of Florida you hail from is an exercise I'll leave you to work on.

        Here [dailymail.co.uk] is one of your concrete poles splayed out on the road like the ghetto crap that it is. The wood one is probably in the Gulf somewhere. These knuckleheads will be in the dark until December and it will be the US proper that has to foot the bill. That power

        • In Florida's case, it's because the state allows FPL to more or less dictate the terms of undergrounding, so we end up with absurd requirements like "FPL requires conveyance of a dedicated easement of 20 feet adjacent to a public road for undergrounding", which in many parts of South Florida would require the eminent-domain purchase (and potential destruction) of the ENTIRE FRONT YARD of everyone on one side of the street, and the entire front yard of one or two homes on the other side for the transformers.

    • That may actually be a good thing long term. Sometimes people won't "fix" something that's already working, even if it needs maintenance. If it's destroyed, then it can be built back up better.

      As an example, after the great Chicago fire it was rebuilt much better than it was before and there was a large influx of money and people for the reconstruction. The city of Myrtle Beach, SC was rebuilt into a resort town when it was largely destroyed by Hurricane Hazel back in the 1950's.

    • I had to double check your picture, it is exactly the same in Québec, everywhere, and we have snow storm and all and power cutoff every winter... a government run power system...

  • by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @05:15PM (#55234677)

    If you have family members in Puerto Rico and want to do them the greatest favor possible, buy them a 3000-3600 watt inverter-type generator, four 5-gallon gas cans (empty, of course), and one or two Carbon Monoxide detectors (or smoke alarms with CO detection built in), then FedEx (NOT UPS) it to them tomorrow so they'll get it by Monday.

    Why 3000-3600 watts? Big enough to start the air conditioner & refrigerator, with enough spare capacity to throttle it down to half-speed to keep them both running overnight. Trust me... if the climate in Puerto Rico is anything like the climate in Miami, air conditioning isn't a luxury, it's life-support.

    3000 watts is also big enough to run a second window a/c unit or a washing machine (tip: don't use the dryer... even if your generator is big enough, dryers cause large amounts of outside air to get sucked into the house... including outside air with lots of carbon monoxide from the generator sitting 10 feet away from the door or window that's cracked open so you can feed the extension cords through it.)

    Why inverter-type? Fuel efficiency. They're going to be using it for a few weeks, minimum. A traditional 10hp 4800-5600 watt generator burns through about 15-25 gallons of gas PER DAY. It's kind of like comparing a 1970 Cadillac Eldorado to a Toyota Prius. An inverter generator will literally pay for itself in gas savings after 2-3 weeks. Post-Irma, I spent more than $250 to keep my old generator running until the power was finally restored a week later... and THAT was with 4-8 hours/day of non-usage. They're also a LOT quieter than conventional generators, especially when running in "Eco" mode. Imagine trying to sleep over the noise of a typical window a/c AND two lawnmowers running in the back yard... that's what it's like trying to sleep with a traditional generator.

    Why gas cans? Gas cans are utterly IMPOSSIBLE to buy for at least a few weeks after a major hurricane. With an inverter generator, four 5-gallon cans should be enough to let them get away with going to the gas station every other day. Five or six are even better, but I was BLOWN AWAY last week when I saw how expensive gas cans are now (I paid $10/can post-Wilma and felt ripped off... now, they're more like $25-30 apiece AND have shitty new safety spouts that turn refueling into a 10+ minute exercise... if you have any old gas cans, treat their spouts like gold).

    Why the carbon monoxide detectors? Safety. Carbon monoxide can easily get into the house, and the fumes WON'T wake them up if they're asleep. Put one detector near the door/window that's open for the extension cords, and another next to wherever people are sleeping.

    Another tip to share with them: a typical American electric water heater (one or two coils, 240v, approx. 4500 watts) can be powered with 120v from a generator without problems. It'll draw 1/4th the total wattage (ie, around 1100 watts at 120v) and take longer to heat up the water, but it definitely works. Wire it up as follows: generator 120v "hot" to water heater's "240v hot #1". generator's "neutral" to water heater's "240v hot #2". generator's ground to water heater's chassis ground. Try to use an extension cord with at least AWG14 wire or better... AWG16 will work in a pinch, but you'll end up wasting 10-20% of your wattage heating up the extension cord instead of the water.

    Other nice features for the generator to have: bluetooth or wifi so you can check remaining fuel/runtime and current power draw using your phone or tablet. Push-button starting (esp. if someone who's not very strong has to start it).

    A generator able to sustain 1800W and surge to 2500W might be OK, but inverter-type generators in THAT range tend to have absurdly small gas tanks. Trust me... getting up in the middle of the night to refuel really, REALLY sucks. Especially when it's 89 degrees and 80% humidity outside.

    Typical current draws I noted after Irma:

    6000 BTU air conditioner: 5A, 550 watts

    8000 BTU air conditioner: 8A, 900 watts

    Side by

    • There is no possibility that Fedex nor any other shipping service will have restored operations that quickly. They certainly didn't in Florida after Irma.

      • UPS, I totally agree, is fucked and hopeless. They probably won't even acknowledge the location of packages already in transit until the end of next week. They suck.

        FedEx might be do-able early next week if the package were held for pickup at their main facility in San Juan.

        Ditto for 3-day Priority Mail. According to USPS.gov, a 55-pound box measuring 22x22x20 would cost around $90 to mail and arrive on Monday, 9/25 (with caveat that their air freight capacity is limited & might sell out at any time)

        The

        • Just to add... if you hack your own parallel cable, you can also do something like pair a cheap $109 800W Harbor Freight generator with a more expensive 1800-2200 watt inverter generator. Just connect the homemade Y cable to both generators, start up the Harbor Freight generator first, then start up the inverter generator second... it'll see the voltage from the Harbor Freight generator and sync up to it. Once you've gotten everything that needs lots of surge power started up, you can turn off the Harbor Fr

  • Almost back to a pre-Columbian era. And looks what happened to them. Stay safe, PR.

  • A friend with family in Puerto Rico contacted three family members living in three different cities after this quote became public and all had power. Perhaps they rounded to the nearest 100%. That isn't to say it isn't bad. After having just spent eight days without power due to Irma, I feel for them.

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