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Offshore Wind Farms Could Reduce Force Of Hurricanes, Study Finds

A Stanford University professor says offshore turbines could knock the wind out of hurricanes.
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A Stanford University professor says offshore turbines could knock the wind out of hurricanes.

Offshore wind farms could reduce the force of a major hurricane — potentially saving lives and millions of dollars in reconstruction costs.

Stanford University engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson has spent the past 24 years building complex computer models to better understand weather and climate change. He says those models recently revealed something surprising: Offshore wind farms could dramatically reduce the wind speed and storm surge of a big hurricane like Sandy or Katrina.

"In the case of, for example, Hurricane Katrina, we used 78,000 large wind turbines and found that would reduce the storm surge by up to 80 percent and wind speeds by more than 50 percent."

Jacobson says turbines would likely be able to withstand most category 1 and 2 hurricanes — those most often seen on the East Coast.

And he says even a relatively small offshore wind farm — such as the one proposed for Maryland's coastline — could still take some of the punch out of a big storm.

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