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EIA Launches Maps to Track Storms, Energy Disruptions

MapWith peak hurricane season approaching, the US Energy Information Administration is introducing interactive maps that combine real-time data feeds from the National Hurricane Center with more than 20 map layers showing the nation’s energy infrastructure and resources.

The tool, which is available on the EIA website, aims to allow industry, energy analysts, government decision makers, and the American public to better see and understand the potential impact of a storm.

Every year, hurricanes and other extreme weather events threaten life and property. Hurricanes also affect the nation’s energy infrastructure, especially when storm paths traverse offshore production rigs and pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico, coastal refineries, power plants, and energy import and export sites.

Right now, the public can see the current predicted path of tropical storm Chantal, moving from the Caribbean’s Leeward Islands toward the Atlantic coast of Florida. As the National Hurricane Center revises its predictions, the maps will be instantly updated.

Hurricane Sandy, which hit the eastern US in October, cut power to power to more than 8.2 million people across that region. A Con Edison spokeswoman said it was the largest storm-related outage in the utility’s history.

Following the havoc wreaked by Sandy, “stormproof” geothermal systems experienced something of a boon.

David E. Reardon, the manager of geothermal drilling for the Miller Environmental Group, told The New York Times he received calls from people wanting estimates on geothermal systems. In some cases, their HVAC systems were destroyed by the storm, he said.

Because geothermal systems don’t use fossil fuels or mechanical systems that are exposed to flooding and high winds, this heating and cooling technology is looking more appealing to building owners that can either repair their old hurricane-damaged system or replace it with geothermal, Reardon said.

More geothermal systems are installed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania than anywhere else in the US, the Times reports.

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