Providing Regional Climate Services to British Columbia

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Report on Wind and Power Outages Released

High winds are the main cause of tree- and weather-related power outages in the Pacific Northwest. These occur primarily in the winter and spring seasons and are often caused by extratropical cyclones as they make landfall along the coast. In order to better understand the connection between wind and power outages, PCIC researchers combined weather station data, reported power outages, climate indices and developed a simple empirical model of power outage occurrences. This research resulted in the creation of a new dataset of wind and power outages over 2005-2017. The researchers found that, over this period, the frequency of outages is strongly influenced by surface winds near the coast. In addition, while outages increase slowly with weak and moderate winds, outages occur much more quickly during strong wind conditions, when wind speeds are over 50 kilometres per hour. While the time period used for the study is too short to reliably quantify the effect of low-frequency climate variability, the data shows that there may be some connection between the Northern Oscillation Index and outage frequency. The model that the researchers developed also shows some skill in hindcasting the subseasonal to interannual frequency of tree- and weather-related outages.

Read the report.