Over 540,000 customers were in the dark in Louisiana on Wednesday night following the onslaught of Hurricane Zeta, which tracked through the heart of downtown New Orleans before roaring into Mississippi. Wind gusts up to 110 mph were clocked on the Mississippi River Delta in southeast Louisiana, while those in the Big Easy ranged between 80 and 90 mph.
Outage numbers were also surging in southern Mississippi and Alabama, where 167,000 and 105,000 customers were without power, respectively, just after 9 p.m. Central time.
The power outages climbed quickly as Zeta slammed ashore in southeast Louisiana. PowerOutage.us reported 30,000 customers were without service at 4 p.m. Central, doubling in the next hour. By 9 p.m., that number had soared to more than 542,000, the majority of outages in the greater New Orleans area.
Orleans Parish, where the city is located, reported over 160,000 outages, comprising more than 80 percent of parish residents. More than 80 percent of Jefferson Parish was without power. Jefferson Parish is made up of the western suburbs of New Orleans, including Metairie and Kenner, as well as the airport. A total of 177,000 customers were suffering outages there.
Entergy, the main electricity provider in the area, had the most customers without power.
Numerous reports on social media emerged of power flashes and downed wires.
Severe weather across the United States, including a winter storm in the Plains, has caused a major infrastructure headache at a time when early voters are going to the polls. About 400,000 customers were still without power in Oklahoma and Texas due to the ice storm earlier in the week.