Rice power grid and flooding experts available to discuss Irene

first_imgShareDavid [email protected] Williams713-34[email protected] power grid and flooding experts available to discuss IreneRice University civil and environmental engineering experts are available to discuss power grid and flooding issues that could arise from Hurricane Irene. Irene is expected to affect the Carolinas at 2 a.m. EDT Saturday and New York at 2 a.m. Sunday, and is predicted to move into New England shortly thereafter.Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, said, “Power outages caused by debris-induced failures at the distribution level of the grid are very likely because of the wind speeds that Irene will impose in the East and Northeast.” He said besides wind speed, rainfall and associated debris, outages are also influenced by the amount of overhead lines, pole-mounted transformers, switches and other exposed equipment, whose density in the areas in the path of Irene is higher than in other hurricane-prone areas such as the Gulf Coast.  “The key question now is not whether outages will occur (because they will), but rather how quickly can utility companies assess damage and initiate restoration activities,” Dueñas-Osorio said. “Rapid assessment and restoration is essential to prevent cascading effects to other infrastructure systems, such as telecommunication, water distribution and transportation systems. The effect of interdependencies is not well-understood yet, while our society and infrastructure are becoming more interlinked. Many stakeholders will be paying attention to how their systems get affected by other utilities and how they affect other systems and users, particularly during the service-restoration process.”Dueñas-Osorio said that emerging technologies within the smart grid or smart-utility concepts will be tested in the limited areas they have been deployed and will provide insight on how such technologies help to expedite damage assessment and restoration prioritization.   Phil Bedient, professor of civil engineering and director of the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuation from Disaster (SSPEED) Center is available to discuss flooding issues. Bedient is one of the country’s most noted experts on hydrology and urban flooding. His fourth edition textbook, “Hydrology and Flood Plain Analysis,” is used in more than 70 universities, and he has worked for more than a decade to create and refine the Internet-based Flood Alert System (FAS) that warns of impending floods in Houston’s Texas Medical Center. Thanks to FAS, there was no loss of life in the 6,000-bed medical complex during severe floods from Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, which caused more than $2 billion in damage. Bedient was widely quoted when Hurricane Ike, the last major storm to hit the United States, struck Galveston and Houston in 2008. Ike became the third-costliest hurricane in the nation’s history.To schedule an interview with Dueñas-Osorio or Bedient, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations, at [email protected] or 713-348-6327. Over the weekend, Ruth may be contacted at 612-702-9473.  FacebookTwitterPrintEmailAddThislast_img

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