New storm forecast model can predict electrical damage

storm forecast model, extreme weather

With the increasing frequency of extreme weather events like storms, researchers have created a model that can prepare for damage risks – one full day in advance

Researchers at Newcastle University are estimating storm risks and making mitigation plans in the case of extreme weather occurrence – as seen this year with Storm Eunice, transpiring across the UK.

Climate change is set to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, as already seen often in the Global South and the tropics.

Additionally, storm intensity will continue to grow, as the higher rate of warming over the poles compared with the equator, may weaken it and the westerly flow of wind towards certain countries like the UK.

This is also to be seen with increased downpours, since warmer air – from global warming – can hold more moisture.

This new model and framework accounts for a ‘consequence forecasting’, predicting the damage which storms, and extreme weather events can have on communities. It calls for resources prior to the events and calls on first responders to be aware before they occur.

Reducing the consequences of storms through prediction

The high-resolution climate model begins with developing relationships between wind speed and faults on the electricity network – which are then used to estimate faults of electricity networks and potential customer interruptions.

This model can be used as early as 24 hours before the extreme weather events occur. The study’s research can assist effective first response to manage infrastructure systems impacted by hazardous weather.

Published in the journal Climate Risk Management, these forecasting tools which predict and prepare for storm damage can help to reduce societal burdens of extreme weather, such as power loss for customers or fines for electrical distribution companies.

The framework applies to an electricity distribution network threatened by approaching windstorms. However, it could equally be applied to other infrastructure systems or elements of the built environment, or any type of weather event.

Dr Sean Wilkinson said, of Newcastle University’s School of Engineering, said: “Our model has the potential to change the way we manage weather and climate risks to our infrastructure networks.

“While electricity network operators already prepare extra resources when a storm approaches, predicting how many power lines may be blown down and where these are likely to be located will allow them to better target the necessary resources to more quickly repair any damage.

“This is likely to become even more important in the future as our changed climate is predicted to produce more frequent and more intense storms and some of these may be beyond the experience of the people tasked to deal with them.”

This model could be applied to other infrastructure systems

Study co-author, Professor Hayley Fowler, of Newcastle University’s School of Engineering, added: “This consequence forecasting is so important for planning emergency response in fast-evolving storms like Eunice.

“Our model could be used to regularly update energy companies and other infrastructure operators on the potential consequences of approaching storms, as forecasts are updated in real-time.

“This is particularly relevant since the first very high-resolution climate models, which are also used for today’s weather forecasts, predict a significantly greater increase in the frequency of severe winter storms in Europe with climate change.”


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