Climate Change Could Knock Out Power in Philly

Johns Hopkins University ranks Philly second among vulnerable cities.

Philly ranks second on a new list of cities vulnerable to climate change, the Huffington Post reports.

The vulnerability? The city’s power grid: Only New York is more likely to experience blackouts connected to climate change.

Johns Hopkins University compiled the rankings:

Johns Hopkins engineers created a computer model to predict the increasing vulnerability of power grids in major coastal cities during hurricanes. By factoring historic hurricane information with plausible scenarios for future storm behavior, the team could pinpoint which of 27 cities, from Texas to Maine, will become more susceptible to blackouts from future hurricanes.

Although planning for climate change is difficult due to the high degree of uncertainty about how hurricanes of the future will behave, the team examined a range of potential changes in hurricane activity and quantified how those changes are likely to influence power outage risk. By being able to anticipate these risks, officials have a chance to protect cities against damage and to reinforce their power grids, he said.

Cities already in the eye of the storm like Miami and New Orleans would remain so. But cities like New York City and Philadelphia as well as some more inland urban areas would likely be increasingly susceptible to more frequent and intense storm activity, the team found. For both New York City and Philadelphia, the 100-year storm scenario, that is, the level of storm impacts expected to be exceeded on average once every hundred years, would be 50 percent higher. More people would lose power more often, and the worst storms would be substantially worse.

The university press release quotes Seth Guikema, an associate professor in the university’s Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering: “If I’m mayor of Miami, we know about hurricanes, we know about outages and our system has been adapted for it,” he said. “But if I’m mayor of Philadelphia, I might say, ‘Whoa, we need to be doing more about this.”