10.4 Using Micronets to Direct and Facilitate Rapid Response*

Thursday, 14 January 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Nicole L. Homeier, Understory Weather, Somerville, MA; and E. Hewitt, A. Kubicek, and A. Jacobs

Severe thunderstorms bring hail and wind damage, but as supercells are meso-scale, current ground-truth infrastructure does a poor job of tracking and predicting where damage occurred. We are mostly reliant on radar and spotter reports to identify damaged areas. Additionally, current weather station networks are unable to detect and report on hail, one of the main perils in supercell storms. Spotter reports provide size estimates of hail, but the damage potential of a hailstorm is also dependent on the velocity, composition, impact angle, and frequency of hailstone impacts. Most mesonets are too widely spaced to capture the erratic fall of hail during storms and even to capture the spatial granularity of winds at surface levels. Deployed much more densely, micronets can contribute a necessary data layer for catastrophe and response planning. The potential applications of micronet data in promoting a weather-ready nation is vast, ranging from rapid response of emergency personnel, to more effective staging of insurance catastrophe response teams, to short-term wind forecasting for utility outages.

During the 2015 storm season, Understory Weather piloted micronets in Kansas City and Dallas. Weather stations are installed every one to five kilometers throughout the metro, with locations selected to cover the highest population centers. Understory weather stations take samples at over 3kHz and measure the force and impact position of hailstones, as well as measuring wind, rain, temperature, humidity, and pressure. Data from the micronets is processed in real-time, leveraging a scalable cloud infrastructure. Our experience with these pilot micronets has shown us the value of real-time ground measurements during severe weather. In this presentation we will describe the data monitored by Understory micronets and discuss case studies from the 2015 storm season. We'll also discuss how the real-time data can be accessed through the Understory API, as well as partnerships with municipalities, broadcast meteorologists, and insurance companies in piloting the real-time alerting and analysis capabilities of these micronets.

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