The Top Ten Disasters of 2020 - #9 Hurricane Zeta

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Tidal Basin reviews the biggest disasters of the year

Tidal Basin has identified the Top Ten Disasters of 2020, from wildfires in the Western U.S. to the historic record-breaking hurricane season, and of course the obvious greatest disaster event of the year – the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Although there were many regional and local disasters around the U.S. this year, the events we have identified had significance due to historical records, the number of people impacted or the estimated financial impact to insured and uninsured property.

#9: Hurricane Zeta

Hurricane Zeta was one of 12 landfalling systems to impact the U.S. during the 2020 Hurricane Season. Zeta was also one of six storms to make landfall in Louisiana and not only left damage along the coast but well inland across the Southeast and up the Eastern Seaboard. At the height of the storm’s local impacts, millions were left without power.

One of the hardest hit states was Georgia where the storm left over one million people without power. David Nadler with the National Weather Service Office covering Northern Georgia says the storm’s severe impacts were due to the fast forward speed of the system and the wet soil conditions from previous heavy rain. “Anytime we get a tropical system move over the inland parts of Georgia they can be significant. The soil conditions were wet leading up to this event, and the heaviest rain fell before the strongest winds arrived with this system,” said Nadler. “The forward motion of the storm was over 30 miles per hour, that’s very fast for a tropical system, it got caught up in the upper-level flow and just accelerating off to the northeast,” said Nadler who serves as the Warning Coordinating Meteorologist for the Atlanta weather service office.    

Zeta caused significant impacts to Georgia’s power grid system, knocking out service to over a million customers at the height of the storm. The state is served by the Georgia Power Company and several smaller electric power coop providers. Georgia Power Spokesperson Craig Bell says the utility was “severely impacted by winds estimated near 70 miles per hour. The storm broke 600 power poles and brought down 1800 spans of powerlines across Georgia,” said Bell.

Sawnee Electric Coop which serves the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta experienced their worst power outage in the Coop’s history. “We had 75,000 meters out, including losing four substations and several circuit feeders, and hundreds of miles of distribution lines on the ground after the storm,” said Blake House, Sawnee Vice President of Member Services. 

Overall, Hurricane Zeta resulted in an estimated four billion dollars in damages and resulted in three storm related deaths in Georgia alone from fallen trees.

Stay tuned for #8 on our list of the Top Ten Disasters of 2020

To view what made our Top Ten list so far, click below: