Wind power production is likely to be above average in the first quarter of 2011 across much of the continental U.S. due to a strong La Nina event in the Pacific Ocean, according to maps released by 3TIER. In addition to foreshadowing a boon for wind power operators, 3TIER's analysis demonstrates that the long-term climatic variability of wind power can be anticipated and factored into the long-term financial planning for a project.
‘To create our prediction, we performed a historical analysis of La Nina impacts on weather across the U.S. for the past 40 years,’ says Pascal Storck, 3TIER's vice president of advanced applications. ‘Our data show that if the La Nina event persists, as is forecasted by the global climate modeling community, many of the wind projects across the country should have a very good first quarter.’
The maps released by 3TIER plot the probability, expressed as a percentage, that wind speeds will exceed their long-term averages. 3TIER released maps for both the fourth quarter of this year and the first quarter of 2011.
As La Nina builds through the end of this year, most of the western U.S. has a high probability of experiencing above-average wind speeds, according to 3TIER. However, the map portends a low probability of higher wind speeds throughout the important wind corridor of West Texas, across a wide swath of the upper Midwest extending deep into Canada, and the northeastern seaboard.
The La Nina phenomenon is characterized by a cooling of surface water temperatures in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, while El Nino creates an opposite, warming effect.