Environmental Protection

Ten Million Predicted to Lose Power During Hurricane Sandy

According to a computer model, as many as ten million in the mid-Atlantic will lose power in the coming week during Hurricane Sandy.

An engineer at The Johns Hopkins University predicts that 10 million people from northern Virginia through New Jersey and into southeastern Pennsylvania will be without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Seth Guikema and his team have developed a computer model built on outage data from 11 hurricanes to estimate the fraction of customers who will lose power, based on expected gust wind speed, expected duration of strong winds greater than 20 meters per second, and population density.

The team ran the model using the official National Hurricane Center track and intensity forecast from Saturday, and emphasize that the number of power outages could change as the storm progresses and forecasts become more definitive. It is possible that 10 million people is a conservative estimate, Guikema said.

Guikema’s model may help power companies allocate resources by predicting how many people will be without power and where most outages will take place, and it provides information that emergency managers can use to better prepare for storms. Guikema, an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, says the goal is to restore power faster and save customers money. Guikema will be running the model throughout the weekend and into next week as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.

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