901 Inclusion of Satellite Remote Sensing Imagery in the NOAA/NWS Damage Assessment Toolkit (DAT)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017
4E (Washington State Convention Center )
Lori A. Schultz, Earth System Science Center/Univ. of Alabama/NASA Short-Term Prediction Research and Transition Center, Huntsville, AL; and A. L. Molthan, K. M. McGrath, J. E. Burks, J. R. Bell, and T. A. Cole

In recent years, the NWS has developed a GIS-based application, called the Damage Assessment Toolkit (DAT), to assist in conducting storm surveys after severe weather events.  At present, the toolkit is primarily used for tornado damage surveys and facilitates the identification of damage indicators in accordance with the Enhanced Fujita (EF) intensity scale by allowing surveyors to compare time- and geo-tagged photos against the EF scale guidelines.  Mobile and web-based applications provide easy access to the DAT for NWS personnel while performing their duties in the field or office, working to streamline the survey process while improving the quality of data submitted in the final survey reports. 

Multispectral satellite remote sensing imagery has demonstrated benefits for the detection and mapping of damage tracks caused by tornadoes, especially for long-track events and/or areas not easily accessed by NWS personnel.  The NASA Short-term Predication Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center has been working with the NWS to integrate satellite remote sensing products into the DAT application framework for the last two years.  The project is intended to evaluate operational use of the imagery during the survey process as well as design and transition the data delivery system that NWS will require to implement this functionality in the future. 

As part of this effort, evaluation of multiple optical imagery datasets from various platforms has been ongoing with select NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in Central- and Southern- Regions.  To facilitate the use of these imagery for damage surveys, initial training was developed to ensure that forecasters understood the correct interpretation, use of, and caveats specific to each proposed dataset.  Imagery from Aqua/Terra MODIS, Landsat 7, Landsat 8, Terra ASTER, and other commercial datasets provided by the USGS Hazards Data Distribution System have been provided to the DAT interface for use during storm survey and post-storm analysis.  Working with the forecasters, feedback has been solicited as to where the imagery has provided value, as well as areas where either the training, the imagery, or the interface needed refinement.

This iterative process has led to multiple adjustments to the data delivery infrastructure as well as interactions with the USGS Hazard Distribution portal, the provider of all of the commercial imagery used within the DAT.  Further, adjustments to both the products and the training provided have also occurred. Plans for the upcoming year include the transition of code and capabilities to the NWS for implementation coincident with the operationalization of the DAT application.  Highlighted in this presentation will be specific cases from the 2016 storm season where the imagery has resulted in an adjustment to a damage track as well as discussion of the potential use of additional imagery from the Sentinel 2 instrument.

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