Regional planning authorities and emergency services can prepare for the impacts of lengthy power outages during extreme weather conditions with the help of scenario-based assessments.
Modelling the impacts of long power outages during extreme weather conditions is important for societal preparedness. The importance of this matter is emphasized in colder northern regions, such as Finland. The EU's Seventh Framework Programme CRISMA funded project developed a simulation tool that can be used to prepare for crisis situations caused by natural hazards. The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) was involved in the project case study, where tools for modelling the impacts and vulnerabilities of the power outage during heavy winter storm in northern Finland were developed.
The role of FMI meteorologists was to formulate an extreme winter weather scenario, for which the different authorities will have to prepare. Researchers at FMI estimated return periods of minimum temperatures, maximum wind speeds and rainfall. The return period tells how often, for example, a certain minimum temperature is achieved statistically in a certain area. "Determination of the return periods of extreme weather events should be the starting point for all risk assessment related to weather events, because in addition to exposure and vulnerability, it also it determines the need for society to prepare ", says FMI researcher Karoliina Pilli-Sihvola.
Based on a simulation model, the study evaluated how different factors affect the cooling of different types of houses, and how the human body reacts to temperatures. In addition, the use of satellite data to assess the areas in which the electricity is cut off was illustrated. Also, the placement of vulnerable groups, such as elderly and children, during the extreme weather situation was modelled.
The study developed and used a model to assess the economic impacts of extreme situations. The model also enables analysis of the costs of measures that aim at reducing these impacts. All the models, and particularly their integration, aim at improving the preparedness of different authorities to a possible crisis situation.
The study was done as a part of EU CRISMA project (www.crismaproject.eu), coordinated by VTT. CRISMA was funded through the seventh European Union's Research and Innovation framework programme FP7/2007-2013, grant agreement No. 284 552.
The Finnish Meteorological Institute is a leading expert in meteorology, air quality, climate change, earth observation, marine and arctic research areas. FMI is in a unique position to study various themes of climate change in the Northern context.
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