Predicting with uncanny accuracy the effects of recent hurricanes, Los Alamos National Laboratory computer models are helping the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Assurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other organizations plan for future disasters. For those in the paths of hurricane devastation, tools such as the Los Alamos infrastructure models could mean their lights and gas return to service hours or even days more rapidly.
"The comparison of actual effects to those predicted by the computer models was amazingly close, considering the variable storm tracks," said Steve Fernandez, leader of the Los Alamos Energy & Infrastructure Analysis team. Working to model electric power restoration across storm-damaged areas, the scientists have been able to provide detailed information to planners on the exact infrastructure impacts, a feat even more remarkable in that the models were run before the hurricanes made landfall.
The computer models were put to the test under fire as Hurricane Jeanne approached the Florida coast in September. Multi-agency teams assembled in the state emergency operations center in Tallahassee and the national emergency operations center in Washington. These command centers coordinated the evacuation and recovery activities as the hurricane approached and then moved through Florida and other southern regions. The models supplied updated predictions to the two centers and to the decision makers responding to the approaching storm.
Nancy Ambrosiano | EurekAlert!
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