June 1 marks the first day of hurricane season in the U.S., which runs until November 30. Prediction models forecast an active hurricane season in 2023, with around 2-3 hurricanes expected to reach Category 3 status. However, preparation and resilience efforts for storms like these begin before hurricane season is upon us. The Federal government, including the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), works in tandem with industry and other government partners to fine-tune emergency plans and protocols that will prepare the nation to respond to and recover from hurricanes and other significant tropical storms.

Ensuring the safe and timely restoration of our energy systems is critical to communities impacted by hurricanes. As the coordinating agency for the Emergency Support Function #12 (ESF #12), DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) leads efforts to facilitate the recovery and restoration of energy systems during a significant national emergency. In this role, CESER works with our public and private sector partners to support the energy sector in several ways:

Monica Neukomm, CESER’s Acting Principal Deputy Director, visited Florida in April to observe a storm drill with Florida Power and Light, the state’s largest energy company. She witnessed first-hand what goes into a response effort when a major hurricane hits Florida. "The energy of a storm drill has all the makings of a real emergency - employees are buzzing, technologies are tested, and protocols are adapted,” Neukomm said. “You can find what works and what doesn't so that when a real hurricane comes along, you're ready for anything."

Prepare: DOE conducts and participates in scenario-based exercises to test emergency plans, define strengths and weaknesses, and identify gaps in preparation for a storm. CESER will host ClearPath XI, the annual all-hazards energy security and resilience exercise series, in summer 2023. The scenario will be a multi-hazard incident impacting energy supply and security in Hawai’i and other U.S. Pacific Island territories.

Respond: ESF #12 activates when a hurricane significantly damages energy systems. At that time, DOE volunteer responders provide technical assistance and expertise to public and private sector partners to repair damaged energy systems and restore power to impacted communities as quickly as possible.

Inform: During an active hurricane response, DOE shares Situation Reports regularly to detail the storm’s impact on the energy sector and to outline response and restoration activities. CESER uses a geographic information system tool called EAGLE-I to monitor infrastructure components, report energy outages, and coordinate emergency response.

Deploy: DOE responders may also deploy to impacted areas, where they work hand-in-hand with partners on the ground to assess energy systems damage, identify needs, and coordinate requests for assistance and resources.

How You Can Prepare for Hurricane Season

Now is the time to prepare for the impact and aftermath of a hurricane. Find life-saving tips and actions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Ready.gov that you can take today, like the following:

  • Know your risk from water and wind associated with a strong storm surge.
  • If you are in the path of a potential hurricane, develop an evaluation plan. Make sure to consider the unique needs of children, pets, and people with disabilities in your household.
  • Gather supplies that will help you get through the storm, including food, water, and medicines to last at least three days.
  • Follow hurricane forecasts and threats from the National Hurricane Center or your local National Weather Service office.

Power outages are common during a storm, so consider these energy safety tips in your hurricane preparedness plan:

  • Pack batteries and other alternative power sources, such as a portable charger or power bank. Have flashlights for each person in your household.
  • Generators are helpful when the power is out, but make sure to use them safely. Never use generators indoors and install carbon monoxide detectors in central locations throughout your home.
  • Store non-perishable food. Keep the doors to your fridge and freezer closed during a power outage; refrigerators will keep food cold for about four hours and freezers for about two days.

Stay up to date by following CESER on Twitter to get the latest energy information during a hurricane.