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NY/NJ/CT Powerwall users: Has Stormwatch activated for Hurricane Henri?

Question for NY/NJ/CT Powerwall owners: with Hurricane Henri coming ashore as I type this, has Stormwatch activated on your Powerwall? It has not done so on mine. In fact, in the three years I’ve had my Powerwalls, only once have I ever seen Stormwatch activated (for a NWS winter storm warning). However, during that time there have been other NWS alerts—both warnings and watches—for weather events that can trigger power outages in my rural area with heavy tree cover and aerial power lines. This includes severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado watches, flash flood watches, and even other winter storm warnings. These have NOT been accompanied by Stormwatch activation. It makes Stormwatch pretty close to useless in my area if the only time it activates is for winter storm warnings, and not even for all of those. So especially for those of you under an actual tropical storm warning, has Stormwatch activated?
 
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I'm in Orange County NY and it has NOT activated. Kind of pissing me off because i'm down to 94% with vampire drain and getting no solar production. However, unlike yourself, in the 3 years i've had the system i have seen Storm Watch enabled at least 8-10 times.
Hmm, I’m not far from you at all (Ulster County NY). I’m curious: is Central Hudson your utility? And can you recall what official NWS alerts might have been in place in your area during previous Stormwatch activations? (Looks like the official NWS alerts right now for Orange County are currently a “Tropical Weather Statement” and a “Flood Watch), right?)
 

nyprepper

Member
Nov 8, 2018
128
155
NE US
My provider is Orange and Rockland. I don't think which utility you have is a variable. In the past I have had Storm Watch activate for NWS high wind warnings and winter storm warnings. I just spoke to a friend on Long Island and his Storm Watch has been activated since yesterday.

I love the system (mine was installed in October 2018) but there is still so much room for small but meaningful enhancements.
 
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My provider is Orange and Rockland. I don't think which utility you have is a variable. In the past I have had Storm Watch activate for NWS high wind warnings and winter storm warnings. I just spoke to a friend on Long Island and his Storm Watch has been activated since yesterday.

I love the system (mine was installed in October 2018) but there is still so much room for small but meaningful enhancements.
Useful data, thanks. Two variables the algorithm for triggering Stormwatch uses seem to be “NWS alert type”—i.e., thunderstorm, high wind, winter storm, tropical storm, etc—and “NWS alert severity—i.e., watch vs warning. But I’m curious about whether there’s another variable that explains cases where NWS warnings of the same type—winter storm warnings, for example—seem to sometimes trigger Stormwatch and sometimes not.

I think you’re right: utility company is probably not a variable. A few posts on other threads discussing Stormwatch have hypothesized that the utility—not just the NWS—has to issue some sort of declaration for the algorithm to trigger Stormwatch. Seemed unlikely to me because it would require multiple data feeds from multiple utilities in multiple formats, instead of just one from the NWS.

I’m willing to consider that Stormwatch has activated on some occasions I haven’t noticed, and that the two NWS alert variables above perfectly explain non/activations. But since I recall news stories stating that Tesla manually enabled charging from the grid in some circumstances in California, I wonder if the determination is purely algorithmic or if the unknown variable is “the attention and judgment of a human at Tesla overseeing the decision.” In which case, hey, human, even us folks who aren’t getting the worst of it on the shore are still going to get some pretty nasty weather. Can we get some juice over here?
 

wjgjr

Active Member
May 11, 2020
1,349
1,063
Silver Spring, MD
Useful data, thanks. Two variables the algorithm for triggering Stormwatch uses seem to be “NWS alert type”—i.e., thunderstorm, high wind, winter storm, tropical storm, etc—and “NWS alert severity—i.e., watch vs warning. But I’m curious about whether there’s another variable that explains cases where NWS warnings of the same type—winter storm warnings, for example—seem to sometimes trigger Stormwatch and sometimes not.

I think you’re right: utility company is probably not a variable. A few posts on other threads discussing Stormwatch have hypothesized that the utility—not just the NWS—has to issue some sort of declaration for the algorithm to trigger Stormwatch. Seemed unlikely to me because it would require multiple data feeds from multiple utilities in multiple formats, instead of just one from the NWS.

I’m willing to consider that Stormwatch has activated on some occasions I haven’t noticed, and that the two NWS alert variables above perfectly explain non/activations. But since I recall news stories stating that Tesla manually enabled charging from the grid in some circumstances in California, I wonder if the determination is purely algorithmic or if the unknown variable is “the attention and judgment of a human at Tesla overseeing the decision.” In which case, hey, human, even us folks who aren’t getting the worst of it on the shore are still going to get some pretty nasty weather. Can we get some juice over here?

This has come up in other threads, but Tesla addresses this at a general level on their website:

Powerwall communicates with the National Weather Service to know when severe weather is on the horizon and automatically triggers Storm Watch. This mode pushes the limits and charges Powerwall to maximum capacity so it can provide backup power.
...
Note that Storm Watch only activates during severe storms that are likely to knock down power lines and cause outages, like hurricanes and ice storms. To best protect yourself from everyday weather events, keep a high reserve percentage or choose Backup-Only. As your Powerwall learns more about the type of storms that typically cause outages, events that trigger Storm Watch will be adjusted.
Essentially, it appears the requirements are an NWS warning of a type that is likely to cause outages (and thunderstorm warnings in particular seem to be excluded.) So folks who have Hurricane/Tropical Storm warnings up should have storm watch activated, but others who may be affected but are not forecast to get Tropical Storm force winds will likely be excluded unless something else triggers storm watch.

There is certainly room for improvement. As an example, even if "routine" severe thunderstorm warnings don't trigger the warning, the algorithm perhaps should trigger it if they are adjacent to a Tropical Storm or Hurricane warning because any outage that does occur might be more prolonged as utility crews will be stretched thin with other outages.

As far as activation outside automated NWS triggers, it does seem possible, but the main (perhaps only) example seems to be where California has announced planned power shutoffs related to wildfires.
 
There is certainly room for improvement. As an example, even if "routine" severe thunderstorm warnings don't trigger the warning, the algorithm perhaps should trigger it if they are adjacent to a Tropical Storm or Hurricane warning because any outage that does occur might be more prolonged as utility crews will be stretched thin with other outages.

Great example of the kind of improvements that would make Stormwatch more useful, at least in my area.

EDIT: Here’s another idea. The quote from the Tesla website implies that my individual Powerwall’s Stormwatch behavior changes as it learns what type of conditions trigger outages. In my area, outages are usually patchy and rather random, not area-wide. So to have larger N to improve predictive power, my Powerwall could learn not just from its own individual data, but from data aggregated across all Powerwalls in the area, or in similar areas.
 
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nyprepper

Member
Nov 8, 2018
128
155
NE US
Great example of the kind of improvements that would make Stormwatch more useful, at least in my area.
Interestingly enough, Orange and Rockland did issue a warning to customers (me included) that loss of power was a distinct possibility.

A change that I would like to see with Storm Watch is to have it remain active for 24 hours after the weather event to permit a quick recharge if the grid is up. On multiple occasions I have come out of weather events with a grid outage to zero solar production due to cloud cover or snow on the panels. In this scenario you find yourself with partially depleted powerwalls and no ability to recharge.
 
Stormwatch is now activated on my system, too. Although interestingly, the official NWS alert type and level are unchanged from earlier in the day, when Stormwatch was not active. So there’s definitely a variable/s other than just NWS alert type and level, whether it’s something like human intervention or something like NWS forecast peak wind gust speed, proximity to more severe alert conditions, etc.
 

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