Map Predicts Future Chance of Power Outages From Hurricanes

The risk of hurricane-induced power outages could become 50 percent higher in some areas of the United States, including Puerto Rico, because of climate change in the coming decades, according to a new analysis.

Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute mapped how future hurricanes could affect power supplies, allowing residents to see how vulnerable their electricity is.

The research comes just after Hurricane Beryl broke records as the earliest Category 4 and 5 storm to form in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm flattened islands in the Caribbean, killed at least eight people and left vulnerable island communities in shambles. On Friday, it made landfall on the Yucatán Peninsula and its projected path suggests it could hit northern Mexico and the Gulf Coast of Texas this weekend.

“These hurricanes can cause really devastating power outages,” said Julian Rice, a data scientist at the national laboratory who helped develop the map. Those outages can have subsequent effects, he said, like reducing access to health care and cutting off power used to heat and cool homes.

The researchers used computer s to model almost one million hurricanes under simulated climate scenarios. The models projected factors like humidity, wind and sea surface temperatures under various potential global warming situations between 2066 and 2100.

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