Met Office launches winter pipe burst model

Posted: Thursday 29th August 2013

The Met Office launches its first pipe burst forecast model. The Met Office’s new model will forecast weather related pipe burst numbers on a 15-day time scale. This will assist water companies with managing burst pipes by optimising resources and increasing proactive planning and risk management.

The launch follows a successful collaboration with Thames Water to make a suite of models available across the whole water industry. The pipe burst model has been developed to now include the Met Office’s world leading weather data and can be adapted and calibrated to individual water company regions.

Increases in pipe bursts during cold weather can cause significant operational difficulties for water companies, including considerable fluctuations in workload and resources. By assessing past weather data, Thames Water has been able to understand and model its pipe bursts over the year.

When the weather forecast and burst forecasting model indicate a major burst event is coming, additional operational resources are released to respond to it, reducing the risk of losses from bursts that lead to significant supply problems.

Michelle Spillar, Head of Utilities at the Met Office, says, “Historically, burst pipes have been extremely difficult to predict accurately across water company networks and resource zones. Our pipe burst model enables water companies to perform day by day network monitoring, forecast trends and analyse actual and predicted future bursts resulting in impressive cost savings across water resources strategy and operations, validated by over five years water industry use.

“We will work with water companies to input relevant weather data and calibrate the burst model for specific network characteristics. We will use historic weather and network data to ensure the model is running optimally. The burst model will work alongside a 15-day weather forecast to predict burst occurrences across the winter.”

The key benefit of the Met Office’s burst model is its seamless integration of burst pipe data into contingency planning and emergency responses, which allows the worst impacts of winter weather to be modelled and quantified with planned mitigation activities. Other benefits include more proactive planning of resources in call centres, repair gangs and networks, allowing for water supply sources to be optimised in order to minimise the impacts of predicted cold weather events and minimising the risks to security of supply.

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