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MEDIA ADVISORY: Hurricane Sandy – Pinpointing potential power outages

An engineer at The Johns Hopkins University is predicting significant power outages for millions of people due to Hurricane Sandy, specifically in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Please note: A multicolored map of power outage predictions is available. Email acl@jhu.edu.

October 28, 2012
Cell: (410) 804-2551

A map of power outages as predicted by Guikema’s model based on the official National Hurricane Center track and intensity forecast from 12UTC (8 a.m. EDT) on Sunday, Oct. 28. Each dot represents a census tract.

Using a computer model based on a current forecast as well as data from past hurricanes, an engineer at The Johns Hopkins University predicts that 3 million people in New Jersey will lose power during Hurricane Sandy. Pennsylvania will follow closely behind with 2.5 to 3 million people predicted to lose power, and Maryland with 1.8 million people predicted to lose power. Washington, D.C., and Delaware will have fewer outages, with 200,000 and 400,000 people predicted to lose power, respectively.

Seth Guikema (pronounced Guy-keh-ma) 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. They ran their model using the official National Hurricane Center track and intensity forecast from 12UTC (8 a.m. EDT) on Sunday, Oct. 28, and emphasize that the number of power outages could change as the storm progresses and forecasts become more definitive. While the figures above add up to more than 8 million people, Guikema and his team predict that 10 million people in the path of Hurricane Sandy will lose power. 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 the 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 today and into next week as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.

To speak to with Guikema contact Amy Lunday at 410-804-2551 or acl@jhu.edu.


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