92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Emergency Manager Use of High Resolution Radar Data During the May 24, 2011 Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak: A Lesson Socio-Technical System Design
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
B. Philips, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA; and C. League, J. Brotzge, and E. J. Bass

On May 24, 2011, an EF-4 tornado left a 32 mile path of destruction in southwest Oklahoma between the towns of Chickasha and Newcastle, resulting in one death, 15 injuries, and hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed. The CASA 4-node radar network, a prototype for a new weather sensing paradigm, captured this event and proved to be an invaluable asset for emergency management decision-making during the event. CASA has deployed a network of X-band radars enabling lower troposphere, high-resolution observations, and overlapping radar coverage. The radar system configures and executes coordinated surveillance and volumetric sector scans each minute to deliver optimal information for user decision-making with the goal of improving warning and response. On May 24, emergency management officials in Newcastle, OK relied on CASA's high temporal and spatial resolution radar products to provide enhanced situational awareness of the approaching tornado. In between the five-minute NEXRAD-88D scans, Newcastle emergency officials using CASA were able to detect a shift in a storm's path at the last minute and accurately tracked the approaching EF-4 tornado to the north end of town. Emergency officials quickly redeployed their response assets to move them away from the direct path of the storm, and to be near the impacted areas. The May 24 event demonstrates the value of the CASA radar network in providing neighborhood-scale information that emergency managers and other users need in order to keep the public and first responders safe.

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