Hurricane season is well in progress, and won’t wrap up until the end of November. And in looking back at last hurricane season, when Sandy rocked the East Coast, hundreds of lives were lost and countless people were displaced from their homes. But that's not all that was affected -- so was our energy infrastructure.

"High winds took down power lines. Rising seas flooded electric substations. Within 24 hours of Sandy’s landfall, more than 8 million utility customers lost power," wrote David Sandalow, former Assistant secretary for Policy & International Affairs Fuel at the U.S. Department of Energy. "Fuel distribution networks were paralyzed. Critical terminals for petroleum and petroleum products were badly damaged. Many service stations lost power and couldn’t pump gas, leading to long gasoline lines in the New York/New Jersey area."

But this year's hurricane season may prove a bit different for the energy sector, thanks to a newly updated interactive map, pictured below, made available by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Now, those in the energy industry may keep an extra close watch on the natural disasters as they unfold.

Energy+Information+Administration+MapWhat was an existing state map launched by the agency last September now includes more than 20 layers of GIS data to plot the nation’s energy infrastructure and resources. The data can be mashed up with real-time tropical storm and hurricane information from the National Hurricane Center, so resources like offshore production rigs, pipelines, coastal refineries power plants, and energy import and exports sites can be monitored as the severe weather occurs, according to the EIA.

The National Hurricane Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, uses separate tools for tracking hurricane paths and carrying out public advisories.

EIA spokesman Mark Elbert said the agency’s existing state map served as a state energy portal on the geography of states, and incorporating the additional data layers from the National Hurricane Center leverages what the EIA had already developed with the state map.

View Full Story
Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.