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Mapping The Impact Of Extreme Weather On Energy Infrastructure

When storms come, the power goes out. New government maps will help utilities track potential outages in real time.

With the current hurricane season predicted to be longer and more ferocious than usual, it’s a good time to prepare for the worst. In previous years, extreme weather has taken out whole oil platforms in the Gulf, and disrupted electricity lines, with pain for business as well as customers.

Here’s what Sandy would have looked like on the new maps.

To keep us forewarned of the potential impacts, the U.S. Energy Information Administration has developed the Energy Disruptions website. It combines live data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center with two dozen datasets covering everything from power plants and refineries, to transmission cables to shale deposits. It won’t stop the hurricane happening, but it might save money and injury at the margins.

Also included are some historical maps showing how previous storms affected operations. For example, there’s Isaac (2012), Irene (2011), and Gustav (2008). The EIA plans to update the current version of the maps continually.