Seth Guikema, an engineer at Johns Hopkins University, predicts that 10 million people from Northern Virginia to New Jersey and into southeastern Pennsylvania will be without power in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
Guikema 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 wind gust speeds, expected duration of winds greater than 45 miles per hour (20 meters per second), and population density. They ran their model using the official National Hurricane Center track and intensity forecast from 8 a.m. EDT on Sunday, and emphasize that the number of power outages could change as the storm progresses and forecasts become more definitive. 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.