25th Conference on Severe Local Storms


Using new technologies for damage surveys

John T. Ferree, NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK; and R. Smith and J. Robinson

After a significant weather event, the need for timely and accurate information on damage location and impacts can be challenging. Often, emergency managers and first responders require this information almost immediately to stage rescue and recovery operations. This is especially true in rural areas where real-time reports are lacking. The media and public are also often anxious to know the cause and extent of severe weather damage. The damage is highly perishable, requiring the prioritization of the field surveys to the areas of highest impacts.

Several new technologies are providing valuable information before, during, and after the damage is surveyed in the field. For example, within minutes of an event the potential tornado tracks can be narrowed by a quick review of radar data, and/or the use of multi-radar mosaics such as the NSSL OnDemand Rotation Tracks product. Storm reports received conventionally over the phone or amateur radio are critical to this process, but increasingly reports received from the public over social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are being used to locate damage prior to the field survey. Since 2008, the NWS has been experimenting with the use of GPS, portable internet devices, and Geographic Information Systems in damage surveys. More recently, storm survey teams have shown that Google Street View and on-line aerial views can be valuable assets in determining construction prior to the damage, and provide a good before and after picture.

These new technologies are currently providing valuable guidance to damage survey teams, and a more accurate and complete view of the damage location and impacts,. In the future, there is the potential for virtual damage surveys as these new tools improve.

Poster Session 10, Supercells and Tornadoes Posters III
Thursday, 14 October 2010, 3:00 PM-4:30 PM, Grand Mesa Ballroom ABC

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