11.3 Advancing Modeling Capabilities and Impact Analysis Tools to Improve Preparedness for Major Hurricane Hazard Events

Thursday, 11 January 2018: 2:00 PM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Isaac Ginis, Univ. of Rhode Island, Narragansett, RI; and D. Ullman, T. Hara, C. Kincaid, K. Rosa, X. Chen, B. Thomas, A. Becker, P. Stempel, R. Witkop, P. Rubinoff, W. Huang, M. Orr, R. Thomas, R. Thompson, M. Belk, P. Morey, and S. Conard

Emergency managers and planners need to be informed about the consequences of extreme hurricanes in order to reduce risks for coastal communities. Researchers at the University of Rhode Island involved in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Coastal Resilience Center of Excellence collaborated with NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) Office, the DHS Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 1, and Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) to create a hypothetical high-impact scenario, “Hurricane Rhody”, for Southern New England. The effort uses multiple, independent, numerical models to create an ensemble of model solutions that integrate hazards, impact models, and 3D visualization tools into one, unified computational framework. A FEMA Integrated Emergency Management Course, held in Rhode Island, used Hurricane Rhody simulations for their four-day exercise in June 2017. To create a realistic training environment, NOAA/NWS and FEMA Region 1 personnel developed tropical cyclone advisories and daily weather briefings. They implemented the Hurricane Rhody scenario, impacts, and 3D visualizations into the HURREVAC storm tracking and decision support computer program. Impact analysis included “thresholds data” collected from local facility managers and OCIA to capture their specific concerns about damages to their facilities. The 3D visualizations maximized the utility of outputs from numerical models to produce real-time hazard impact analyses that increased relevance and credibility. These new capabilities will help emergency managers and planners understand how major hazard events impact critical infrastructure, utilities, and transportation and the associated challenges in managing multiple threats with limited resources. The FEMA course also initiated the essential work of determining the type and frequency of model information that is optimal for the range of end-users both inside and outside of the exercise space.
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