Texas Spared Worst of Blackouts as Harvey Brings Rain, Not Wind

Updated on
  • Storm’s strongest winds missed fourth-largest U.S. city
  • About 345,000 Texas customers are still without power

The widespread devastation Hurricane Harvey has unleashed on Houston and across Texas won’t include historic power failures.

While the storm’s damages are still mounting, Texas utility regulators have estimated power losses at about 345,000 customers, well below blackouts from previous major storms including Ike, which hit Houston and Galveston in 2008. They’ve also fallen short of a forecast of 420,000 customers by university researchers from Texas, Michigan and Ohio.

Harvey’s biggest threat to Houston turned out to be rainfall, not winds. Though flooding from the storm has devastated the city, displacing residents and causing billions of dollars in damage, Harvey had weakened considerably from its earlier Category 4 status by the time it reached Houston after making landfall in a less populated area.

“Initially, it was forecast to be much stronger wind-wise when it hit Houston, ” Seth Guikema, an associate professor at the University of Michigan who is part of the research group, said by phone Tuesday. “It meandered more and got much weaker before it hit Houston.”

A volunteer looks for stranded residents in Kingwood, Texas.

Source: The Washington Post via Getty Images

The team lowered its forecast to 350,000 customers blacked out on Saturday after Harvey made landfall between Corpus Christi and Houston. Ike, in contrast, made a more direct hit on Houston and Galveston, ultimately leaving 3.9 million U.S. customers without power.

Damage from Harvey, however, may mean that some areas along the Texas coast won’t see service restored for weeks or months, the Edison Electric Institute, a Washington-based industry group, said in a statement.

Flooding has prevented crews from reaching many parts of Houston, delaying power restoration, Houston electric utility owner CenterPoint Energy Inc. has said on its website. AEP Texas put on hold a restoration target for Bay City after mandatory evacuations ahead of high waters.

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