181 TED: The Tornado Environment Display, An Online Visualization Tool Utilizing Storm Chaser Imagery To Inform Severe Storm Research

Thursday, 10 November 2016
Broadway Rooms (Hilton Portland )
Anton Seimon, Appalachian State Univ., Boone, NC; and S. Talbot, J. T. Allen, and T. Seimon

This presentation will demonstrate how storm chasers provide opportunities for researchers to develop exceptionally detailed visual archives of severe storm and tornado characteristics that can be rendered useful for scientific application through post-analysis. We use the 31 May, 2013 El Reno, Oklahoma tornado to demonstrate how a video imagery database, crowd-sourced from storm chasers, can be precisely time-corrected, geo-referenced, and compiled in a user-controlled web interface: the Tornado Environment Display (TED: http://el-reno-survey.net/ted/). Recognized as the largest (4.3km diameter) and among the strongest (135m s-1 winds) tornadoes ever documented, the El Reno storm is the subject of numerous published and ongoing investigations.

To build the imagery archive for TED, a crowd-sourcing effort, the El Reno Survey gathered raw imagery and metadata from storm chasers. Solicitations issued via social media and email yielded 95 contributing registrants. Submitted materials were analyzed and compiled in a quality-controlled, open-access research database. Lightning flash intervals provide precise time calibration of contributed video imagery; when combined with geo-referencing from Google Maps geographical information software, this enables detailed visual display of storm phenomena fixed in space and time. Video footage from a selection of 35 contributors, rendered at 29.97 frames per second in a common format displaying UTC time code, can be viewed synchronously on TED from up to four perspectives simultaneously. Google Maps background and navigation can be overlaid with synchronous MPAR or WSR-88D base reflectivity and velocity imagery, and icons representing chaser positions and view azimuths can be selected as the display operates in real-time. A representative set of examples will illustrate how TED and the Survey database can provide novel observations on tornadoes, lightning and hail. This approach also offers a new model for post-storm data collection, with instructional materials created to facilitate replication for research into both past and future storm events.

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