Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Please visit my new post in the parallel blog at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Please, check my parallel postings at

Monday, November 1, 2010

To my followers, I am sorry for this long hiatus caused by lots of work. As Tomas is moving towards Haiti for a potentially catastrophic impact even if it is a low intensity hurricane, I am planning to get back to this blog with some new topics. In the meantime, I leave you with a photo that I took while I was just east of Hermine's center of circulation. Even tropical storms with relatively low wind-speeds can create significant outages in the power grid. Percentage of damage infrastructure from Hermine was very low (at most 1%).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Claudette and Bill

I am doing just a quick post to keep updated this blog while I continue preparing for the start of the semester. The past couple of weeks I have been busy following TS Claudette and Hurricane Bill. Fortunately, none of these storms had a severe impact and each of them caused just a few thousand outages at the peak. Typhoon Morakot is the opposite story. Although Taipower restoration work seems impressive, there are a few thousand outages, likely in the areas destroyed by the Typhoon's torrential rains and mudslides.

Monday, August 10, 2009

More of Morakot and other news

I found these frames in CNN videos from Taiwan very interesting. As you can see power is still on despite the fact that the area is flooded and winds from Morakot are intense.
In other tropical news, Felicia should impact Hawaii tomorrow and I will follow its impact although I doubt it will be significant.
In the Atlantic, things are relatively calm. The impressive tropical wave coming out of Africa has been affected by dry air and dust from the Sahara so chances of a rapid development if any are very small. Another tropical wave is entering the Caribbean but it does not look very promising either.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Morakot effects and other tropical news

PubTeX output 2006.02.15:1804

Taipower restoration work keeps on being impressive.Although Morakot has already produced 1.5 Million outages, Taipower seems to have managed to maintain the active outage number at about 10 % (more precisely about 160,000) of the total outages occurred since the storm began. These are impressive figures which worth a more detailed view in the future. The Pacific is boiling with storms, depressions, and invests, with 3 in the west (including Morakot) and 2 in the east (including Felicia). Regarding Felicia, although it has entered into cooler waters which made her loose some intensity, she has been holding its structure quite well which seems to indicate that may reach Hawaii with still some intensity. Let's see what happens.

As with all El Niño years, the Atlantic is relatively calm. A very impressive tropical wave left Africa a few hours ago and may well become Ana, the first named storm of the season. It is interesting how sea temperatures in the Pacific (El Niño is a temporary increase of east equatorial Pacific waters) can influence the Atlantic hurricane seasons so much. The most intense El Niño occurred in 1997 when only 8 storms, 3 of them hurricanes, formed. One of these hurricanes, Danny, was the only storm that made landfall in the U.S. When it made landfall, Danny was a weak Cat. 1 hurricane, however, I received comments that in terms of power issues Danny was the most challenging storm after Katrina. The reason is that as soon as it made landfall Danny stalled and prevented with heavy and continuous rains conducting damage assessments and network restoration activities. But, of course, El Niño years is not a guarantee of mild quiet seasons. The following year, 1998, was also a strong El Niño, but strong storms (Bonnie, Georges, and Mitch) affected the US and Central America.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Quick update on Typhoon Morakot and Hurricane Felicia

Currently, the Taiwanese electric company (Taipower) is reporting that approximately 1,000,000 customers lost power due to Typhoon Morakot (now a T.S.) ( This is about 9 % of their total customers. However, they also report than only about 100,000 customers are still without power. Hence, 90 % of the total outages have been restored in less than 24 hours, an amaizingly fast restoration which merits further examination.
Regarding Hurricane Felicia, as expected has weekened to a cat. 2 storm and is expected to weaken even more before reaching Hawaii. Hence, it should not have much impact on the island.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Initial comments about power outages and hurricanes.

As I said in this blog description, one of my interests is to study the effects of natural disasters on critical power infrastructures, such as the power grid or communication network elements power supply. My interest begun when I was studying my PhD at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and my advisor, Dr. Philip Krein, asked me to participate in a research project studying the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Part of the study involved doing a damage assessment, during which I had the unique opportunity of seeing first hand how destructive hurricanes can be. Since then, I did 3 more damage assessments in 2008 after Dolly, Gustav, and Ike. During this research I started to figure out that there are many myths in how the effects of hurricanes on the power grid is usually considered. Some fundamental lessons are:
1) The power grid is a very fragile system. Damage to 1 % or less of the grid’s infrastructure can originate extensive power outages that can affect all customers in a very large area.
2) The grid is usually repaired in the same way that it was before being damaged by the hurricane, making it more or less equally fragile than it was before
3) Although wind is an important source of damage to the grid, the % of damaged power infrastructure elements do not correlate with wind intensity only. The more intense damage to the power grid correlates better with the storm surge than to wind.
4) The power grid is an inherently extremely vulnerable system because it has a centralized control and lacks diversity and redundancy in most of its sub-transmission and distribution paths.

So for a while, I have been having this idea of keeping an informal of the effect of power outages on critical power infrastructure. This idea grew stronger during the big wild-fires in California a couple of years ago and last winter the big ice storms. Today I will start with my attempt of doing so by trying to keep track of what Hurricane Felicia does to Hawaii and may be what Typhoon Morakot does in South East Asia.

Hurricane Felicia is now a Cat. 4 storm aiming at hitting Hawaii early on Tuesday morning. Fortunately, it seems that Felicia is going to weaken significantly before affecting Hawaii because, contrary to Iniki in 1992 that hit Hawaii from the south where the water is warmer, it should approach Hawaii from the east where water temperatures are below the 26C level to sustain a hurricane. However, Felicia is interacting with TS Enrique which may affect their forecasted path. In any case, soon the National Hurricane Center (NHC -—actually the Central Pacific Hurricane Center at —will likely start issuing watches and warnings that will provide a clearer picture of what is going to happen with this storm.

By the way, here there are some nice links I tend to follow about hurricanes and disasters:
Tropical weather: weather underground: ( Their Hurricane Felicia page is: From there these are three interesting pics

I always learn a lot reading Dr. Jeff Master’s blog: (
Some interesting pages related with hurricanes models, data, and forecasts are: (for example, look in the bottom map for Saharan Air Layer Analysis in the Atlantic∏=splitE&time or the Low/Mid-Level Dry Air Tracking for the Pacific∏=splitW&time or the MIMIC-TPW (total precipitable water for either the Atlantic or the Pacific (for example pull down the “Level” menu and look for Wind Shear in the GFS model – a good tutorial on wind shear is at where it is explained that in general wind shear should be less than 20 knots for a hurricane to develop)

Some nice maps for the Atlantic can be found at
This, by the way, refers to the fact that the Atlantic has been very quiet this season. However, the Atlantic being so quiet is not something to feel too comfortable. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 didn’t develop until mid August.

Finally, a couple of pages mostly related with tornadoes and hail storms:
The Storm Prediction Center:
The National Weather Service:
And extreme tornados from Discovery Channel’s Storm Chasers:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A short initial comment about myself and this blog

Welcome to my blog. Having this blog has been on my mind for a while. I am an Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Austin. These are exciting times in my area of interest: electric power and energy (EPE). Although EPE infrastructures are a fundamental basis for modern societies, technology development in EPE has not received, traditionally, as much attention as other areas. As a result, what once was the most complex, modern, and reliable human-made engineering system, the electric power grid, is now a complex, but aging and unreliable system showing significant signs of stress. However, the search for solutions to the current energy crisis through, for example, utilizing renewable sources or developing hybrid electric cars, and the development of what is called an "smart grid" have renewed the interest in the EPE world.

These changes are also accompanied by new ways of communicating, quite different from the traditional papers find in academia. I see a blog as a complementary way of discussing issues of interest, more dynamic but certainly less exact than papers. In a way a blog could become a continuous virtual conference coffee break where different topics can be discussed and commented as they happen. Hence, the ultimate goal is that this blog becomes an informal public forum in which aspects of electric power and energy generation, conversion, storage, and use could be openly explored. In the future, I am planning to discuss many issues, from technical and scientific aspects (e.g. ac vs. dc power), to social and historic views, of course within the context of the EPE theme of this blog. My only problem is time. So I will try to post new entries regularly, but I can't make any promises about posting frequency. I'm sorry....

My immediate next blog is on current issues.