Which storms top the list for the most power outages in US history?

By Amanda Schmidt, AccuWeather staff writer


Extreme weather can cause massive power outages from trees collapsing and knocking down power lines. The devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico's power grid this season serve as a reminder of the potential threats.

A Rhodium Group report found that no event in U.S. history has recorded so many people without power for as long as what has occurred in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands following Maria.

Although pre-1960s blackout events were more difficult to accurately assess, report authors believe that only the 1938 hurricane that hit New England might belong on this list.

The United States and U.S. territories have experienced numerous large-scale blackouts. On the list of top 10 largest blackouts in U.S. history, there is only one that is not caused by a hurricane. Hurricanes are the leading cause of power outages in the U.S. by a wide margin, according to the report.

"Hurricanes are most common on the list, this is most likely because of the size of a hurricane, the extent and number of people affected, and how long it takes to get power back on," Rhodium Group Research Analyst Peter Marsters said.

Three of the top 10 biggest U.S. blackouts include hurricane-driven power outages in Puerto Rico from Maria, Georges, and Hugo, which suggests that the island needs a more storm resilient power grid, the report reads.

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The infrastructure on Puerto Rico is older, and the power grid is unreliable. Puerto Rico is an island, which creates logistical issues and difficulty connecting to outsides sources, Marsters said.

puerto rico maria ap

People walk next to a gas station flooded and damaged by the impact of Hurricane Maria, which hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, September 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

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