New tool estimates solar and wind power production based on weather forecasts

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Happy Monday and welcome to another edition of the Beyond The Forecast newsletter! We’ve been talking a lot about sustainable sources of energy lately, due to Earth Day last week.

A new tool developed by Climate Central can show us how much solar and wind energy is being produced in each county in our corner of the Commonwealth!

It’s called WeatherPower and uses National Weather Service forecasts, along with information about existing renewable energy sources, to predict how much energy will be generated on a given day.

Here’s an example of how much solar energy was produced in Virginia today. You can customize the graphics to show yesterday’s data and forecasts for up to three days in advance.

(Source: Climate Central)

The numbers make sense, due to the amount of sunshine we saw today and how much is in the forecast tomorrow. More clouds yesterday kept the production down some.

Virginia is not a hotspot for wind energy just yet, although that could change if the Botetourt wind farm project is able to fight through its legal battles.

We can use another state that’s big on wind energy, Texas, to show you WeatherPower’s metrics.

(Source: Climate Central)

Lots of turbines means lots of electricity generated by the wind in the Lone Star State.

A new feature from WeatherPower? The addition of the Spanish language to their graphics!

Below, we have the three-day solar energy forecast for Roanoke in Spanish, broken down into car miles, trees planted and smartphones charged.

(Source: Climate Central)

I think the coolest thing about this tool is the ability to break down the energy produced county-by-county!

Roanoke County is projected to produce enough solar energy to charge 1.4 million smartphones tomorrow! The solar energy production looks good later in the week, too.

(Source: Climate Central)

Feel free to fiddle around with this tool yourself! It will be interesting to see how the numbers change in the coming years as solar and wind energy becomes more prominent in our society.

Switching gears to your forecast, today was a top 10 weather day in Southwest and Central Virginia! If you liked today’s warm-up, you’ll love what we’re expecting in the coming days. Meteorologist Chris Michaels breaks it down in our daily forecast article.

You can always get specific forecast details for your zone, whether it’s the Roanoke Valley, Southside, the Highlands or elsewhere around Southwest and Central Virginia, anytime at WSLS.com/weather. Know your zone!

In case you missed it, we’re posting great weather and science content on WSLS.com. Here are a few links from the past week to check out:

If you prefer your weather information delivered by social media, you can follow Your Local Weather Authority on Facebook and Twitter.

You can also keep up with me on social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, follow along!

-- Justin McKee


About the Author:

Justin McKee presents the weather forecast on 10 News Saturday and Sunday mornings from 6 to 8 a.m. He also fills in for other meteorologists during the week.