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New model could help to predict extreme weather damage

Climate experts and engineers have created a new model to predict the damage caused by adverse weather. 

The framework enables first responders to effectively target resources prior to an extreme weather event, such as Storm Eunice. 

The pre-event decision-making model works by first developing relationships between wind speed and faults on the electricity network. 

The relationships are then used to estimate faults of electricity networks and potential customer interruptions. 

This model can be used as early as 24 hours before extreme weather events. According to the researchers, having the forecasting tools to predict and prepare for storm damage will reduce the societal consequences of extreme weather, including power loss for customers and fines for electrical distribution companies. 

2 person walking on snow covered road during daytime

Dr Wilkinson 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.’

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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