Being Ready During Hurricane Season – Hydro prepared in advance for stormy weather

October 3rd, 2017

People living in Newfoundland and Labrador know all too well the kind of damage that severe weather events can cause, and storms like Harvey and Irma that pummeled parts of the southern U.S. and Caribbean recently serve as an ominous reminder that this year’s hurricane season is in full swing.

Being safe and being prepared is a message that resonates with people who’ve been affected in some way by hurricanes, and it’s also a mantra that power utilities live and operate by every day.

“Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are used to dealing with harsh weather conditions pretty routinely,” says Jason Tobin, Supervisor of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s Energy Control Centre. “As the primary electricity provider in the province, we have to be prepared for all sorts of inclement weather, from windstorms, to winter blizzards, to post-tropical storms and hurricanes that we often see in late summer and the fall.”


It’s a typical sunny September day in Newfoundland and Labrador – but some nasty weather is on the way. The System Operations division constantly monitors weather forecasts and tracks approaching storms and significant weather events, and coordinates efforts across the company to ensure all the necessary steps are taken so that the electricity system is prepared and ready to respond.

“As operators of the electricity system, we always need to ensure that, from a readiness perspective, we’re well-equipped to respond effectively to hurricanes, high winds, and other adverse conditions,” says Tobin, who has been with Hydro for 16 years and overseeing the Energy Control Centre for the last 4 years.

When a storm is imminent, Hydro’s teams take action. Storm planning meetings are held and descriptions of forecast weather conditions are distributed and discussed with regional operations teams, along with details of the system preparations being made.

“Hydro begins implementing its severe weather preparedness protocol in advance, either on a regional or province-wide basis as forecasts dictate, particularly when weather watches or warnings are issued,” Tobin notes.

“We’ll complete a full series of preparations,” he adds. “We staff up and mobilize personnel where needed, and line patrol crews and other field staff are stationed and on standby. Our fleet vehicles are fueled up, stocked with supplies and equipment, and ready to be deployed. We test our back-up generation.  The Energy Control Centre is on alert and monitoring the electricity system closely 24 hours a day. And we ensure that we have adequate customer service support in place to answer phone lines in case of outages.”


Wherever issues arise, crews respond as quickly as possible, without compromising safety. They are often out working in the worst kind of weather and around the clock to investigate the problem, troubleshoot, and make repairs to restore service safely and promptly. Sometimes the cause of an outage is easily fixed. Other times, it can be very challenging, due to either the extent of the damage and repair work required, or other factors such as hazardous weather conditions or a remote location.


Tobin notes that ensuring safety and providing reliable service to customers is always top of mind for those who work at Hydro because of the very nature of their jobs.

He also offers a reminder that people can take steps themselves to be ready for a hurricane or stormy weather.

Some tips on being prepared and staying safe:

Before a hurricane:

  • Secure items in your yard or on your property that might be blown around or torn loose, such as patio furniture, BBQs, and garbage cans.
  • Trim back trees and branches to reduce the chance of them breaking and falling onto your house or car during a storm.
  • Stock up on water, ready-to-eat food and heating fuel, as well as battery-powered or wind-up flashlights and radios – and extra batteries.
  • Make sure that there is enough gas in your car.
  • If you have prescription medications, ensure you have an ample supply.
  • Have an emergency kit handy. Some items to include:
    • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Battery or crank operated radio
    • First aid kit
    • Bottled water
    • Non-perishable foods
    • Warm clothing and blankets
  • In case you lose power during the storm, charge up your mobile phone.

In the event of a power outage, stay safe:

  • Don’t touch or go near fallen power lines.
  • Don’t use camp stoves or barbecues indoors as they produce carbon monoxide.
  • Don’t plug a portable generator into the wiring system of a home or building. This could result in serious injury to utility workers.


For more information on hurricane and other emergency preparedness, visit Fire and Emergency Services-Newfoundland and Labrador or

View this video for more on staying safe during a power outage.

Media Contact:

Jill Pitcher
Senior Communications Advisor, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro
t. 709.737.1219 / c. 709.689.9938 e.