Professor Mark Z. Jacobson of the civil and environmental engineering department at Stanford University has been developing an environmental model to study the effects of climate, air pollution, weather and energy. In recent developments the model has been used to simulate hurricane development and also to calculate theoretical power extraction from global wind currents.
He asked the question: What would happen if a hurricane encountered a large array of offshore wind turbines? Would the extracted energy from the turbines slow the winds and diminish the hurricane or would the hurricane destroy the turbines?
So he adapted the model and simulated a hurricane encountering a massive wind farm stretching for miles offshore and along the coast. The findings indicated that the turbines could indeed have an effect. “They slow down the outer rotation winds of a hurricane" Jacobson said. “This feeds back to decrease wave height, which reduces movement of air toward the center of the hurricane, increasing the central pressure, which in turn slows the winds of the entire hurricane and dissipates it faster."
Modeling Katrina, the violent 2005 hurricane, Jacobson's model predicted that an array of 78,000 wind turbines off the coast of New Orleans would have significantly weakened the hurricane before it made landfall; decreasing wind speeds by 36 to 44 meters per second (between 80 and 98 mph) and reducing storm surge by up to 79 %.