On the Use of Satellite Nightlights for Power Outages Prediction

Juan P. Montoya-Rincon, Shams Azad, Rabindra Pokhrel, Masoud Ghandehari, Michael P. Jensen, Jorge E. Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hurricanes are a dominant disaster in the Caribbean, always causing serious power outages throughout the islands. Hurricane Maria was a prime example, causing unimaginable destruction of the power infrastructure of Puerto Rico (PR). Consequently, one month after the hurricane landfall, approximately 80% of the population was still without power. After an event of such massive destruction, the electric power restoration process progresses very slowly. This timeline can be improved using power outage (PO) forecast models that help identify the vulnerable places before the hurricane landfall. Generally, these models are trained with historical power outages records, associated data on weather conditions, and additional information about the natural and built environments. However, PO records are often difficult to acquire, and, in many instances, the power utility companies may not record them. This study utilizes a satellite-based Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) night light data product as a surrogate for the power delivery to predict hurricane-induced PO in areas having limited to nonexistent historical data records. The processed satellite data is then used along with geographic variables, and simulated weather data to formulate machine learning-based algorithms to predict PO for future hurricane events. These models are applied and validated in the context of the PR catastrophic storm, Hurricane Maria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16729-16739
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Access
StatePublished - 2022


  • Power outage prediction
  • extreme events
  • machine learning
  • night-Time light
  • weather simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Computer Science
  • General Materials Science
  • General Engineering


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