Sep 18, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Puerto Rico loses power across entire island as Hurricane Fiona nears

Hurricane Fiona entering Puerto Rico
Satellite image of Hurricane Fiona prior to making landfall in southwest Puerto Rico. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

The entirety of Puerto Rico lost power Sunday as Hurricane Fiona, a Category 1 storm, bears down on the island, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced.

Driving the news: As of 2pm ET, PowerOutage.US showed no active electricity for the 1.4 million customers on the island that the service tracks.

Puerto Rico blackout power grid
Puerto Rico's power grid. Image: PowerOutage.us

What they're saying: "Emergency incidents are being reported as a result of #HurricaneFiona," Pierluisi said in a tweet, which was translated from Spanish to English via Google Translate.

  • "LUMA Energy and the Electric Power Authority report that due to the effect of the hurricane, the electrical system is currently out of service. The protocols have been activated according to the plans established to deal with this situation. Both LUMA and PREPA personnel are active and ready to respond to the situation once conditions allow."
  • "Rivers out of their banks are also reported in different regions of Puerto Rico. We emphasize that everyone's safety is the priority right now."
  • "NMEAD personnel are actively responding to those emergencies in which the lives of citizens are in imminent danger."
  • "We are coordinating with the NMEAD and other agencies, and we will continue to keep our clients informed," LUMA Energy tweeted Sunday. "Due to the magnitude and scope of the outage, as well as the effects of Hurricane Fiona, full power restoration could take several days."

Details: The island was placed under a hurricane warning Saturday morning.

  • Hurricane Fiona threatens to dump more than two feet of rain in Puerto Rico, which prompted the National Hurricane Center to issue a warning about "catastrophic" flooding, Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.
  • Puerto Rico's current blackout followed hours of worsening power outages across the island, including during a briefing from Pierluisi on Sunday about the storm. As he spoke to reporters, the lights went out.
  • Storm-force winds extended as far as 140 miles from Fiona’s center as it nears Puerto Rico’s south coast, AP reports.

Context: The blackout comes two days before the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico’s power grid in September 2017 and left residents without electricity for months.

Zoom out: President Biden approved an emergency declaration in Puerto Rico, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency to supplement the response efforts.

Go deeper