Hurricane Harvey Threatens Wind Farm Output

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

At least one news outlet has noticed that renewable energy is exceptionally vulnerable to hurricanes and other extreme weather events. How will renewables power the future, if climate change produces more extreme weather?

Harvey Set to Overpower Wind in State Generating the Most

Storm could knock out between 2.1 and 3.6 gigawatts of power near the Texas coast

By Brian Eckhouse, Chris Martin, and Ryan Collins

26 August 2017, 04:59 GMT+10

One of the worst things that can happen to a wind farm is too much wind.

“The problem with this hurricane is they don’t see it trailing off in any direction so it’s just going to hover,” said Jeff Ferguson, the Magnolia, Texas-based senior vice president of project development at Apex Clean Energy Inc. “So it could be next week for the winds to diminish adequately so we can resume normal operations.”

Production was set to peak in the late afternoon Friday and taper off as turbines automatically begin to shut down, according to Simon Mahan, a director at Southern Wind Energy Association. Turbines generally aren’t designed for hurricane risk, said Alex Morgan, a New York-based analyst at BNEF.

“They’ll pitch down and yaw into the wind, which allows them to safely pinwheel,” said John Martinez, director of operation at Pattern Energy Group Inc., which owns the 283-megawatt Gulf Wind farm in Kenedy County. “This way the blades don’t flex, which can be damaging. The turbines are designed to automatically do that.”

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This isn’t the first time reporters have noticed that renewables installations are exceptionally vulnerable to weather. Back in February this year, an Australian journalist noticed the renewable climate dilemma.

… The climate change gambit has always been a Goldilocks story. The speed and damage of climate change had to be not too hot (or rapid) and not too cold (or slow), it had to be just right. Too rapid or hot and renewables would never work. Too delayed or cool and the world could wait for better technologies. Renewables seemed right only in the just right scenario.

But, what if climate change creates more clouds, calms the wind, stops rivers flowing, or wipes out bio-crops in regions where panels, turbines, hydro and biofuel stock are located?

You would think CSIRO would research the risk. But it has nothing to say. …

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Fossil fuel and nuclear installations can be hardened. Fossil fuel and nuclear power generation is mostly an indoor activity. Barring flooding due to poor siting of the plant, that outer wall provides a lot of protection.

Renewables installations are far more vulnerable. Wind turbines cannot be toughened too much, or the extra weight of the blades increases bearing friction and reduces efficiency. Solar panels are flimsy pieces of glass or plastic, vulnerable to hail, wind and water. The protective top sheet of solar panels has to be thin, otherwise it blocks too much light.

Power line engineers are good at repairing downed power lines – over the last century or so they have had a lot of practice. But there is not much point repairing power lines, if the power plant itself does not survive the storm.

149 thoughts on “Hurricane Harvey Threatens Wind Farm Output

  1. I am going to guess that the Houston area has lost a good portion of its solar generation capacity, too. Solar panels are probably scattered from Corpus Christi to Austin.

    • Well, I guess if your home is gone , you are not going to be worrying too much about losing the solar panels you had on the roof!
      Maybe when they rebuild they will try using brick instead of of wood and paper to make houses.
      The only evidence I see of brick on film of flattened houses is some seem to have a single layer of brick glued on the outside to make them look like brick construction. This worthless visual façade just falls flat on the ground. I even see shots of badly damages but standing houses with a panel of brick flat in front of the house. It just peeled off !
      Goldilocks construction: I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.

      • Wood frame building with a brick vaneer very common as the building takes almost no time to errect as the wood frame is pre-fab. Even brick buildings are not immune as they can be severely damaged by flying debris. I have seen pictures of wood used in housing frames that have passed through a tyre on a car right through the firewall and through the block of an engine. And there are those who believe we can control the climate with a tax on energy!

      • Beside being more costly, brick is a poor insulator and is more vulnerable to earthquake damage—it doesn’t flex and recover, and it is harder to repair (I assume).

      • I suspect that flattened houses got flattened after the roof, or a large part of it, blew off, removing its bracing effect on the walls. That’s the most vulnerable part of a house in a windstorm. There was a demo on CNN yesterday of a CGI of hurricane intensities from 1 to 5, and the house in that video collapsed after the roof was compromised.
        Another weak point are the windows. Brick’s no help there. (Codes should require shutters, so dwellers don’t have to screw in ugly plywood before a storm, and then store it somewhere, wasting space, for the next storm.)

      • Beside being more costly, brick is a poor insulator and is more vulnerable to earthquake damage—it doesn’t flex and recover, and it is harder to repair (I assume).

        So is the Gulf and east coast a seismic risk zone or hurricane risk?
        Brick add thermal capacity which helps stabilise temperatures through the diurnal cycle and reduces A/C needs.
        Basically, it’s all down to cost, so they make cleanex housing: one blow and it’s a crumpled mess.

      • In a brick-built house you have a ring of steel reinforced concrete around the top of the walls, rather than relying of the roof timbers to hold them together.

      • Goldilocks construction: I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.
        I have such a house here in Houston (I can confirm it’s raining), and it survived direct hits by both Rita and Ike. Ever since Hurricane Andrew, modern building codes require metal gussets connecting the roof to the walls, and bolts tying the walls to the foundation.
        When I’d take the train from Gatwick into London, I’d see hectares and hectares of chimney, with a bit of roof in between. British construction is Gold Plate, not Goldilocks. Solid masonry, tile roofs, built to last centuries. All those chimneyed row houses were there when Princess Victoria was still in diapers. And people still have to live in them. A fireplace in every room – probably converted for burning coal. Appallingly wasteful floor plans with lots of corridors. A foyer/grand entrance hall required in the tiniest hovel, just because Buckingham Palace has one.
        A common construction is masonry cavity walls, block on the inside, airspace, and brick or some other cladding on the outside. Very thick walls, impinging on interior space. Trying to retrofit insulation into the cavity is tough, often with severe moisture problems.
        Too expensive to tear down, far too expensive to rebuild.
        Wood frame is still considered experimental. I read that a timber frame house could last up to 60 years! I also read that timber (lumber) has more embodied energy that brick or masonry. And that double pane windows amplify outside noise. Basements are also a novel idea in the land of slabs.
        We have plenty of century+ old wood homes in America, mostly improved to better serve modern needs because people could afford to improve them.

      • “Wood frame is still considered experimental. I read that a timber frame house could last up to 60 years! ”
        In Scandinavia wooden houses are expected to last at least 100 years. I myself lives in one that is 70 years old and has required only minimal maintenance (=repainting).

      • Here’s a quote from WaPo today:

        Montry Ray was staying up late to ride out the storm with his wife and two children when the roaring sound of the tornado sent them running for cover in a bathroom. Just as they bolted from the master bedroom, the storm exploded through its wall, embedding bricks in the drywall across the room. The storm ripped open the roof.

      • It is not entirely clear that sturdier more expensive construction is the way to go. We could build houses out of reinforced concrete, that could withstand hurricane winds, but they would be very expensive.
        The Japanese have gone the other way. They build houses that are torn down after thirty years.:
        “Why Are Japanese Homes Disposable?” by Greg Rosalsky on February 27, 2014
        “In most countries, houses get more valuable over time. In Japan, a new buyer will often bulldoze the home. Why?
        * * *
        It turns out that half of all homes in Japan are demolished within 38 years — compared to 100 years in the U.S. There is virtually no market for pre-owned homes in Japan, and 60 percent of all homes were built after 1980. In Yoshida’s estimation, while land continues to hold value, physical homes become worthless within 30 years. Other studies have shown this to happen in as little as 15 years.
        * * *
        In the podcast, we look into several factors that conspire to produce this strange scenario. They include: economics, culture, World War II, and seismic activity.”
        It is all strategies. My house in 105 years old. I like that, but I live in a part of the country that is at minimal risk for major natural disasters.

      • Our first home in 1983 was timber-framed and is still standing as are many other buildings built the same way, some nearly 600 years old, but that is the UK where we don’t have hurricanes. If I owned a house in a hurricane zone I would make sure it was built to withstand a hurricane.

      • Andrew Harding. It might be more economical and even rational to do what many people in tropical regions do. They build cheap, flimsy houses that can be quickly and easily replaced. If a hurricane is coming, you will evacuate even if your house is sturdy, because even the sturdiest house will not prevent flooding or make it possible to breathe water.

      • Having damage to homes is a normal casualty of a Cat 4 hurricane and is nothing new, it is a disaster but one we have come to know over the years. What is NEW with this incident is the amount of reliance placed on forms of energy generation that are fragile. As we have had a very long drought of major hurricanes hitting the US, this will be the first time insurance companies are going to have to deal with replacing fragile energy production infrastructure as that sort of infrastructure has ramped up in deployment over the past 12 years.
        This has the potential to spread the impact of the hurricane over a much broader area than just the area where wind might cause damage. If enough generation infrastructure is disabled, it can have regional impacts that go beyond local devastation. I also have a suspicion that insurance rates for solar installations have a good possibility of rising considerably after this event.

      • “Goldilocks construction: I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house down.”
        LOLm Is that a mixed metaphor?

      • Well I read today that the floods were 5 foot as solar panals are normally pudeep please could you tell me as panels are normally put on roofs. Who has a roof 5 ft above ground level

      • Important to repeat that flood insurance only covers damage by rising waters.
        Much of the damage I see is caused by wind which is covered by Homeowners, not flood, I don’t know what happens if there is a combination.
        On the NJ coast after Sandy, I did not have damage caused by rising waters except minor damage at my dock. which I fixed myself.
        I did have wind damage which included loss of shingles which caused some interior water leakage which was covered by Homeowners insurance.
        I suspect there is some confusion on which program is covering the insurance , wind damage from Hurricane is NOT covered by flood insurance but homeowners just as is wind damage fro Tornadoes. Also as stated there is a limit on the level of flood insurance of $250,000 which does not cover the very expensive homes which the owners seemed to repair quickly anyway.
        I don’t know if was Fed or State who paid the bill the but the politicians were very generous (with our tax dollars) for votes to those who had no insurance and apparently even subsidized the cost of raising homes on piling to stop future flooding.This was intended to cover primary residences not summer homes for the “rich”. Some towns would not allow rebuilding if homes were not raised to conform to latest elevation standards. I believe all new construction requires upgrades at the joints, etc which seem to be the weakness for WIND damage in older homes.

        • Oh, yea. A few years ago we had a sustained, heavy line of thunder storms with heavy, sustained rain. Water pouring down the hill which rises above our house, put 28 inches of water in our basement. We are at 1100 meters above sea level, 188 feet above mean ground water level and 41 meters above the average water level of the creek below our house. Insurance agent laughed. Outright laughed in my face, told us we would never get a penny for that water damage.

    • @Mike McMillian “Wood frame is still considered experimental” One helluva experiment. I am sitting in my “experimental” house, built in 1890, and other than having to replace the roof every 30-40 years and repainting it is just fine. I do a lot of remodeling work, oldest wood frame house I worked on was built in 1800, so yea, wood frame construction is quite experimental.

      • My cousin has a house that’s over the century mark, too. It’s got indoor plumbing now and aluminum siding. The lead pipes were replaced by iron, and I replaced most of the iron with copper a couple decades ago.
        London had a big fire back in 1666, so after that they built only in masonry.
        The 60 year point is from a British self-build magazine article wondering if they could overcome their aversion/fear of wood frame construction. We have wooden houses left over from colonial times still in good shape, but they didn’t want to go out on a limb claiming any more than 60 years.
        Most stateside houses are torn down because they’re way-outdated, abandoned, or in the way of a shopping mall rather than falling apart due to age.
        Britain could do a lot better housing its people if it gave up certain misconceptions and prejudices, but that’s for them to decide. Land use/zoning and permit structure is pretty oppressive, too, but I must admit it does make the place quainter for us tourists.
        It’s still raining here in Houston.

      • Here’s another story from WaPo today:

        But in Rockport, as well as in the adjoining towns of Fulton and Aransas Pass, there were scores of damaged or destroyed properties across communities of mobile homes, middle-class houses and vacation retreats. The Category 4 hurricane tossed the mobile homes across streets and into neighboring structures, chewed through brick buildings and peeled off roofs and aluminum siding.

      • Re your water damage. Water damage from flooding is never covered in normal insurance packages. If you broke a basement window and the water came in then it would have been covered. Had that situation in Cheyenne WY from a very large hail storm. The water had to come in through a damaged something for coverage. Seepage didn’t cut it. Next time break the damn window.

    • “This has the potential to spread the impact of the hurricane over a much broader area than just the area where wind might cause damage” Which is why you use coal, gas and nuclear to generate electricity. That way ONLY transmission lines need to be repaired. There is a certain segment of the human population who are too stupid to comprehend these facts. They should NEVER be allowed to vote and damned well should never be allowed into any position which may exert ANY influence, at all, over decisions regarding energy production, agriculture or industry, And yet they infest government like a plague of rats. Real human being definitely have to do something about this.

    • Too bad that wind mills can’t extract all of that energy from such storms.
      It’s pretty bad when you have to take down the sails because the wind started blowing.
      I just hope that those many folks who are in the midst of all this devastation find a way to recover somehow. Next time it could be California that is under water, by falling into the ocean.
      We would like to have everyone’s support too if that happened.
      Texans have endured more than most folks do.

  2. While you guys are worrying about solar panels and wind turbines in the hurricane, many homes are being destroyed. I wonder how those will be fixed. Bet they cast more.

    • Just like the last 6 cat4 storms to hit this part of Texas, the damaged or destroyed homes will be rebuilt in the same places and be just as flimsy (insurance won’t cover the cost of upgrading to more resilient construction) so when the next Cat4 storm arrives in 2028, they too will be inundated and or destroyed. People simply don’t learn and insurance companies only care about the bottom line.

      • John Stoussel did a special years ago on federal flood insurance where he openly admitted he lived where it flooded because the taxpayers would rebuild his house. If people did not have enough sense to elect officials that did not do stupid things like this, Stoussel figured he had the right to take advantage of the situation.
        While I’m not sure I’d want my house flooded repeatedly (though my grandfather’s was—he lived in a low-lying area), part of the problem is indeed that people build in inappropriate places. Regular insurance did not cover flooding, so the Feds stepped in and covered it. People without insurance get a GoFundMe page or a collection box at a local business. There’s not a lot of incentive to plan ahead.

      • Flood insurance has coverage limits of $250,000 for residential structure with additional coverage for personal items in the home. Commercial limits are $500,000. People need to stop spreading the misinformation that everyone gets their house and commercial structures rebuilt by taxpayers. Flood insurance premiums are expensive depending on several factors. Now, if you were to prohibit building in “A” flood zones, you should also prohibit building in tornado zones, blizzard zones and any other natural catastrophe zones. But if yo did property taxes on those few structures that are allowed would be so high only the ultra rich could afford them. The rest of you may as well go back to being hunter gatherers where only the strong would survive.

      • Yeh, because all those people in New Jersey didn’t get there house rebuilt by the government after Sandy even though they had zero flood insurance. Oh wait.

      • Actually rebuilding in tornado prone areas would only cost about 5% more than traditional reconstruction and result in a structure that would be tornado proof by utilizing concrete instead of wood framing. Similar construction would also create hurricane proof housing. Then, flood damage could be vastly minimized by raising the living area above 20′ tidal surge levels. Maintain ground level for parking (garage) and simply leave during the main event (so your cars don’t get flood damaged)

      • Bob boder August 27, 2017 at 8:35 am
        “Yeh, because all those people in New Jersey didn’t get there house rebuilt by the government after Sandy even though they had zero flood insurance. Oh wait.”
        Apparently you do not know the difference between flood insurance and low interest government disaster loans.

      • Well I have to buy flood insurance because my house is near the shore line of the largest lake west of the Mississippi river.
        Of course it hasn’t had any water in it for about 100 years, because the land under it was more valuable than the water in it, so they drained all of that lake into the rivers leading to San Francisco Bay and out into the Pacific Ocean.
        The Lemore Naval air station is built right in the middle of Tulare Lake, and so is the city of Hanford.
        There isn’t enough water lands on California in a whole year to show an inch of water on my laser leveled property, and my house is four feet off the ground anyway, on a stone wall.
        But I’m one of the patsies who gets to pay for rebuilding all of the Missouri Bottom structures every year.
        It’s a FEMA co-operative venture.

    • Almost certainly there will be more tax-payer “assistance” money spent on repairing wind turbines and solar panels than on people homes.

    • I hear that there is going to be three feet of rain. I can’t even imagine that. Where I live, three inches of rain is a lot. Do the houses in hurricane areas have basements?
      In the area where I live, three feet of rain would flood all the basements. That would destroy all the furnaces, water heaters, and electrical panels. Everything in the basement would have to be thrown out and there would probably be mold problems. The damage would be catastrophic.

      • I hear that there is going to be three feet of rain.

        No Bob you are not reading what was written. There were some claims that “there MAYBE AS MUCH AS” 36″ in some areas.
        It’s like temperatures may rise as much as 6 degrees C by 2100. You fell for it and retained “there’s going to be”. I would have thought that as a frequent visitor here you would have been wise to this one by now.
        It’s like a bidding game, the guy who prints the biggest, most alarming figures gets the most clicks.

      • Basements are mostly done in areas that require foundations below the frost line. As this area of Texas does not freeze enough to worry about frost heave, basements are rare.

      • Typically a home in the south does not have a basement. The reason for this is the depth of frost penetration. Ie homes in the south have shallow foundations. In the north since the foundation has to be deeper, putting in a basement becomes cheap space.

      • Where I live basements are impossible because you can’t keep them dry – the water table is too high. On the NC coast, building standards are such that a cat 3 storm will cause no damage except maybe for roof shingles or flying debris. Cat 4 is something else, but actual cat 4 winds on the ground are quite rare. I haven’t seen records of any cat 4 winds recorded on the ground in Harvey.
        Of course, older construction is not so good. Particularly, mobile homes take a big hit even if manufactured to contemporary standards.

    • While you guys are worrying about solar panels and wind turbines in the hurricane, many homes are being destroyed.

      Hey you count on Eric Worral never to miss a chance to rail against wind and solar and post his favourite photo of windgen burnout, even if it is totally irrelevant to the story.
      People die, thousands of houses trashed, Significant damage of ( fossile fuel ) oil refinery plant, but Eric ignores that to speculate about the loss of output from wind gen. when they yaw into safemode and pinwheel.
      Just his usual biases, partisan ranting. Not to be taken too seriously.

      • Feel better now Greg?
        It is good to get some sh*t off your chest.
        You have a lit to get rid of.

      • It’s kind of sad that some people cannot take in some aspects of a situation without becoming upset that more important parts are being missed. Writing on homes destroyed ignores pets that are lost. Writing on homes and pets ignores businesses. Writing on homes, pets, and businesses ignores infrastructure. Writing on homes, pets, businesses and infrastructure ignores damage to natural resources. And on and on. Soon, so many things are included no one gets beyond the first line. Or was that the idea?

      • Greg make a decent point. Are there any reports of damage to wind generators?
        Showing a picture of an exploding wind generator is propagandizing, stooping to alarmist practices.

      • scraft1: Maybe it is propaganda, but it’s impossible to show turbines shut down in a photograph. Other than on fire, with a shredded blade or fallen over, there’s no way to impart wind turbine failure in a photograph. How does one show a wind plant no longer turning in a still photo? I guess we could go with no photo since everyone knows what wind plants look llike. Would that be better?

        • Any pic of a wind turbine shows the failure, their only success is in sucking up tax dollars, and they excel at that.

      • Focusing attention on one aspect of a situation does not automatically imply that other aspects, larger or smaller, are being ignored. Insinuating otherwise is trite, fallacious, and insidious. “We should not see the trees for the forest.” is your claim. Just your usual adhominey prattle, not to be taken too seriously.

      • Sheri, you could go with no photo until you get hard evidence of a wind turbine failure. Why don’t we stick with facts here. You tired of alarmist hyperbole? Me too, but I’m also tired of any hyperbole and rank propaganda. Skeptics deserve better.

    • It’s really fascinating how trolls actually believe people can only concern themselves with one thing at a time.
      I guess it’s another example of mental projection.

      • Or a self image of moral superiority. You know like most self righteous statests, who tell everyone else how to live their lives.

  3. Sigh. How many times do I have to shrilly assert this?
    Calling her “Harvey” will not magically change the science!
    Our representatives betrayed We, the American people, with empty promises to “solve” and “get rid of” Sandy in 2012, and have been letting us down every year since.
    Sorry guys, but Sandy didn’t “go away.” Transvestitize her as “Harvey” all you want, but this is the same hurricane as before, and all our institutions have catastrophically failed to do anything about her.

      • Hurricane biology doesn’t respond to wishful thinking, Jeff, and physics could (i.e. couldn’t) care less about feelgood affirmative action campaigns. In fact it probably feels very little (and none of it ‘good’), according to the latest physical physiologists.
        The thing about hurrstory textbooks, Jeff, is that they’re written by winners. The scientific literature doesn’t have that problem.

      • AndyG55,
        your question about the science behind hurricane-sexing strikes me as disingenuous, since you’re posing it to people like me, who are absolutely clueless. If you were engaging with us in good faith, you’d avoid engaging with anyone as encyclopedically-ignorant as us.
        Since you clearly fancy yourself in possession of the killer smart-aleck brainteaser that will topple the entire edifice of science (plus a few chunks of radiative physics), why not put your wallet where your hip-pocket is and write your ideas up as a proper blog post?
        And then submit your new paradigm to WordPress, like I do every couple of hours?
        After all, I’m sure that if your alternative (“crank”) hurricane-zoology is better than science’s version, the legitimate Pielke community will embrace it with open arms.

      • The real question is..
        Are you SURE that Harry is a male ?
        Have you really investigated properly….. Do you really want to ??

      • AndyG55: What do we call it when we get a “gender undefined” high velocity cyclic wind?
        Bill Nye?

      • Brad.. you write to verbous.
        Keep it down to a couple of lines so us meer mortals can comprehend what you are actually trying to say ;-

  4. Roger Sowell posted on another thread that nuclear, installations of which are usually in hardenned structures, is unreliable in hurricanes suggesting other installaitons, like wind/solar are.

    • Nuclear power could be subject to hurricane damages IF the storm destroyed both the incoming power for the spent fuel ponds AND the back-up generators, like what happened at Fukushima Daiichi

      • You wont find a nuclear power station built like that on an active fault zone anywhere else in the world. So your point is moot.

      • Actually it was not a storm but a magnitude 9.0 earthquake followed by a which produced a 50 foot tsunami that caused the destruction at Fukushima.

      • Presumably, by now, all the reactor’s in Japan (and the rest of the world) that are in areas subject to tsunami’s , have put water tight doors on the room where the back up generator is located.

      • The Fukushima Reactors were located to close to the water. Japan is seismic, and they know it. They should plan accordingly.

      • Japan is about the most thoroughly disaster-prepared nation in the world. Post-Fukushima, it received far more foreign disaster aid than it really needed. The flipside of one plant failing due to design and siting oversights, is all the others that didn’t.

      • They do seem to be prepared for everything except for
        Or any of the other dozens of Kaiju that have constantly destroyed Tokyo

  5. The green blight can only be buffered, not isolated from the environment. Still, this is positive progress for the birds, bats, etc. in the local environment.

    • Do you imagine birds bats etc. are immune to the effects of 130 mph winds?
      Just shows the hypocrisy of all the “bird concern” here on WUWT.

      • Bats tend to hide in caves in bad weather. Some might get flooded, but my guess is over the centuries the bats have discovered which caves offer the best chance of survival.
        Small birds probably hide in tree hollows, large birds probably fly away from the storm front. A few tens of miles away from the immediate centre of the hurricane is usually very survivable – only birds whose shelter tree is directly in the path of the storm are likely to be killed. I don’t know where the birds in my area hid when a cyclone passed by a few years ago, but there were plenty of birds around immediately afterwards.

      • Tornados are the worst for birds. In the mid ’80s I was working for a tech company in Houston when we were hit by a tornado. Driving home that day I saw two Canadian geese dead on the side of the road, they’d be collected from a nearby pond by the spout, and the number of small dead birds was huge. When the wind is already blowing, the birds are hunkering down and get collected just like tree limbs.
        Hurricanes produce a lot of small quick tornados tearing up trees etc.

      • Greg must be getting over time pay for all of his false concern.
        Last time I checked, hurricane’s have been hitting this part of the world for millions of years.
        The damage being done by your precious wind mills is 100% on top of that damage.

      • Greg, bats are okay, birds can certainly evacuate the scene free of traffic bottlenecks. It is an interesting question to pose, though. Do they sweep up tonnes of birds afterwards? I’m sure somebody knows the answers. Maybe they just blow away early and fly back when it’s over. I’ve seen seagulls a long way away from the sea so they do travel.

      • Birds have hollow bones and the drop in air pressure can be very painful for them. I suspect that they fly away from the low pressure area long before the hurricane arrives.

  6. The hurricane was such a damp squib that the catastrophiles are already retreating from direct observation to the much more familiar and comfortable world of dystopian projection. Now the storm is “to” cause disastrous flooding. “To” distract attention from the no-show of all the extravagant prognostications of hurricane disaster.

    • Yes , storm surge was touted as being a major risk too, despite this occuring during the neap tide part of the cycle.
      I have yet to find a single measurement of the actual storm surge as opposed to predictions of ” between 6 and 12 ft”.

      • The worst storm surges are caused when a strong storm piles water up in front of it when it is strong for days. Harvey developed quickly and did not have time to pile up a huge amount of water. Per NOAA, storm surge is a worst case scenario forecast. You are unlikely to find the predicted storm surge. Here is what NOAA said about the storm surge in their Harvey discussion before landfall. “Remember that the Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map does not represent a forecast of expected inundation, but rather depicts a reasonable worst-case scenario – the amount of inundation that has a 10 percent chance of being exceeded at each individual location. Because the Flooding Map is based on inputs that extend out only to about 72 hours, it best represents the flooding potential in those locations within the watch area. “

      • JR. The problem is that reporters give a storm surge forecast of “17 feet” and that’s the number that sticks. You never hear about the nuances of the NOAA forecast. The result is that the credibility of NOAA and the press takes a hit. Everybody loves to hear and repeat the catastrophic, it’s just human nature.

      • Jr.
        The worst storm surge happens where the land funnels the surge together, multiplying its effect.

    • I wonder what THE word will be when we really have a bad natural event.
      “Catastrophic” has been worn out on mediocre events.

    • We are having serious rainfall here in Houston. Here where I live we’ve had >9 inches (230mm) in the last 24 hours. This is typical, with a number of areas receiving more. Within 50 miles (80 Km) of Houston there are several major watersheds and that much rain over the next three days will cause severe flooding. I’m ~80 mi from the coast and only 140 ft (40M) above MSL. That’s a very flat pitch for drainage!

  7. Human progress always amounts to less dependency on land and nature. Solar- and wind energy are backwardness in both respects.

      • Actually an interesting notion. There are thousands of wind generators in the midwest which absorb a huge amount of energy. This is bound to affect the intensity of the overall winds. Anybody know how much?

      • At least so far, the amount of energy being harvested by turbines is a drop in the bucked compared to how much energy is out there.
        On the other hand, by slowing down the winds locally, there’s a chance they could influence over all patterns. Much as a small hill would do.

  8. Near the end of the post: “Fossil fuel and nuclear power generation is mostly an indoor activity. Barring flooding due to poor siting of the plant, that outer wall provides a lot of protection.”
    Isn’t that one of the advantages of the LFTR design for Thorium power plants? They do not require an abundant water supply, as Uranium power plants need. They could effectively be located in a desert, far away from a population center (not that it’s dangerous, just public perception). So a LFTR plant could be well inland, away from a flooding coastline or river, safely producing power.

    • Steam plants do not require abundant water supplies. It does not matter how the heat is produced when you look at how the steam is condensed after leaving the turbine.
      I have been at two large nuke plants in semi-arid regions with not near large rivers. If you happen to have a abundant supply of cooling water like an ocean or cooling lake, it saves the cost of cooling towers.

  9. A nuclear reactor is about as bulletproof a structure as one can build (they can withstand a direct hit by a 747 aircraft). and in the case of a molten salt reactor, even destruction of the reactors won’t
    mean very much – once outside of a 600 degree core, or an ambient temp below 450 degrees ,the fuel freezes instantly and fission stops. There are no high pressures present in a molten salt reactor core, only in the steam turbine generator system, and that is not radioactive and is totally separated from the reactor. And the fuel is very strongly proliferation proof.
    As for Japan’s reactors – the only one I know of that was sited near a fault has been permanently shut down in their overly zealous restart program to ensure that absolutely nothing can be left to chance.
    Fukushima survived the tsunami flooding quite well – it was operating normally afterwards, although the entire surrounding electrical grid had been destroyed. Their incredibly stupid blunder was to not spend a few thousand dollars and have several backup generators. There was no
    acceptable reason for that meltdown. It wasn’t money – it was a lackadaisical attitude, which had been pointed out by American nuclear regulators. In this country that couldn’t happen, even if the backup generators failed, since we have bicoastal emergency centers that have all of the equipment needed for any nuclear plant energency and can airlift it to any nuclear plant in trouble. After nuclear power transitions over to molten salt reactors, most, (probably all), of that emergency equipment becomes obsolete (pointless). These reactors will be classified as Small Modular Reactors, often sited within the cities/metro areas they serve, reducing the possibility of cascading power grid interruptions over a wide area.
    And they depend far less on medium and and peak load fossil power plants, which renewables cannot live without, since they themselves can be (are) operated as medium peak level generators.
    At least one design sites the reactor and associated structures entirely underground, which eliminates a lot of issues, realistic or not.
    In sum : “Hurricane? Who cares?”

    • Have 50 years experience in nuclear power. The major reason that NPPs shutdown is because of nuclear regulations. Period. At the first warning of an impending natural disaster the operators begin the shutdown sequence. A forced shutdown is a bad mark whereas a “planned” shutdown is “OK” in the NRC’s eyes.

  10. Just talked to family in Huston, yep, hurricane hit, just like so many others. Flooding, wind damage, people being generally stupid as always. But never fear! The wind power shysters will continue to suck up our tax dollars while producing no discernible return for the electricity consumers.

  11. There is a large wind farm north east of Corpus Christi. This farm was probably on the direct path of the eyewall. It will be interesting to see how this wind farmed faired. The wind farm is relatively new and should be built to handle the winds speeds from Harvey. Ie the wind speeds were in line with maximum design wind speeds for this area.

  12. It seemed rather amazing that at many of the areas that were cloud covered on the day of the total eclipse how the clouds faded as the sun begin to eclipse. Then as total eclipse approached the clouds cleared. Making great viewing. Then as the coverage disappeared, the clouds returned. This happened in four of the cities covered by my local news services over a 250 mile path. This clearly is demonstrating a principle of clouds, radiation and temperature. Why is it not accounted for in the climate change propaganda?

    • Funny the exact opposite happened by me, no clouds the a quick clouding up during the eclipse. It was supposed to be clear hot and humid.

  13. The tip of the blade in the photo accompanying this article is pivoted. Saw the same thing recently in Iowa after a strong windstorm there. What gives? Why do the tips do this?

    • “this article is pivoted. Saw the same thing recently in Iowa after a strong windstorm there. What gives? Why do the tips do this?”
      The blades of wind turbines are have many similarities to aircraft wings. They can pivot to increase of decrease rotational speed and if necessary they use air breaks stop or slow dow down. Just like aircraft do.

  14. A “green” energy source that isn’t tolerant of nature. What will they think of next???

  15. I am retired from a property casualty insurance company that DOES NOT do business in the Gulf Coast states, Florida and the East Coast states. Hurricane Harvey demonstrates the reason why. They also don’t do business on the West Coast, particularly California, because of the earthquake fault lines. The CEO actually knows what the heck he’s doing.
    I’m left wondering how much the PC insurance companies that actually do business in Texas will end up paying out.

    • …..and one other thing. I seem to recall Roger Sowell faulting the nuclear plants in Texas the other day for having to shut down because of Harvey. Well Roger, judging from this post about how the wind farms are affected by Harvey, aren’t we selectively cherry-picking just a bit?

  16. The BNEF analyst’s comments on how the blades are angled to the wind of the hurricane sounds more like a prayer than a surety.

  17. Apropos Nuclear Power ….
    Three weeks after the Fukushima disaster, I thought of the concept of Floating Nuclear Power Stations …. FLONUPS ….. which, I have been promoting ever since. Had they been adopted instead, would have avoided completely the disaster which occurred.
    A FLONUP comprises a massive reinforced concrete, multi..cellular raft, each cell fitted with a nuclear reactor, all designed for instantanous containment and flooding if necessary in the event of an emergency to any one.
    A FLONUP or FLONUP flotilla is moored far enough offshore in deep enough water to be tsunami..proof and earthquake..proof (tsunami waves only manifest in inshore, relatively shallow shoaling waters. A distant subsea earthquake transmits an underwater shock..wave that barely rocks a ship under which it passes.
    As to hurricanes, the massive weight, draught and planform will maintain its stability in stormy weather, combined with sufficient freeboard and scuppering.
    An added benefit is that the concept largely avoids NIMBYism, and vastly mitigates the regulatory and approvals processes involved in onshore NPS planning.
    So here we have a safe, Carbon..light, reliable, continuous power..generation method that answers all the usual criticisms about NP.
    A no..brainer, I’d say.
    Sent from my iPad

    • Ross you have *snip*!
      While I started my nuclear career in the navy, on nuke ships. Some float some submerge.
      I noticed that Ross, *snip*, is not volunteering to operate power plants out in the ocean.
      Having worked at many stationary nuke plants, the most dangerous thing I did was drive home from work. Sometimes in the snow and rain.
      Producing power out in the ocean adds another hazard to content with.
      There will always be critics of nuclear power. No one has ever been hurt by radiation from commercial light water power reactors designed to US standards.
      It would be hard to beat a perfect safety record by introducing drowning in a hurricane.
      The point! If you have a brain, you consider all the hazard and ignore irrational fears.

    • “FLONUPS” You mean a nuclear powered Aircraft Carrier or Submarine. Don’t be shy, when you know the answer just shout it out!

  18. Been specializing in the design of hurricane proof buildings for a couple decades…Monolithic domes, concrete and steel. The cost is about the same as a custom built frame building. A dome makes efficient use of materials and has low wind resistance, but the same can be achieved with a rectangular shape with a pitched roof. A few years ago I wondered if something approaching a tornado proof house could be built that didn’t look like a bomb shelter using standard technology and readily available parts. A liveable house is possible. Tornado proof windows and doors can be purchased. With four inch thick, or more, reinforced walls inside and out and roof only one weak spot remains…the garage door. With the right eight foot wide door and bracing bars even that could withstand anything but a direct hit. From the outside it looks like a regular house. I wrote a book about it, Tornado!, Only One House Will Survive.

  19. Power plants only produce as much power as is demanded.
    When transmission line go away because of wind or flooding, demand goes away.
    Nuke plants are designed for natural disasters. Shutting down a power plant when you know the power will not be need is not a weakness, just prudent.

  20. “Wind turbines cannot be toughened too much…”
    Next step by the greenies is to place the wind generators in a hardened silo with motors to raise and lower them as needed.

    • I’d guess that most of the turbines survived, because the real winds haven’t been that severe. ERCOT reported a peak outage of a little over 300,000 customers. I can’t raise their site (probably a DNS problem for me), so I can’t see what they’re saying about wind generation (if anything). I expect they’d prefer to rely on other sources until the storm is passed.

  21. There is a major wind turbine farm near Baffin Bay, just south of Corpus Christi. It will be interesting to see how it fared. It’s probably 40 miles or so southwest of Rockport, where the storm made landfall, so it would not have experienced the strongest winds.

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