3B.4 CASA Alerts: Context-Aware Hyper-Local Severe Weather Alerting through X-Band Radars and Mobile Apps

Monday, 8 January 2018: 2:45 PM
Room 10AB (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Brenda J. Philips, Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA; and A. Bajaj, D. Westbrook, E. J. Lyons, M. Zink, A. Venkataramani, J. E. Trainor, C. E. League, and V. Chandrasekar

CASA Alerts is an innovative mobile application designed to deliver context-aware, hyper-local alerts of severe weather to emergency managers, businesses and the general public. What makes the app unique is that it makes use of rapidly updating, high resolution gap-filling X-band weather radar network data, currently unavailable on other mobile apps. In addition, the app is designed to track user locations and generate ‘footprints’ representing normal user behavior and is able to customize alerts based on this and user preferences for notification of various hazards.

CASA Alerts uses a variety of unconventional data sources to generate a more complete picture of the severe weather risk. Seven CASA radars deployed in North Texas provide one minute updates of storm development and measurements of wind hazards from multiple directions. In addition, combined X-band/S-band dual polarization products are used to estimate rain rate and accumulation and identification of hail. Reports of tornadoes, wind events and flooding from local storm spotters are ingested into the app, as are in-situ measurements of wind and hail from a set of 140 sensors deployed by Understory across the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex.

The app is designed to serve multiple stakeholders and every stakeholder group accesses a customized version of the app that may include proprietary data sources, business process information and custom alerts. For example, the City of Fort Worth storm water department receives alerts when rain accumulation over basins exceeds thresholds determined to be indicators of flooding. Emergency managers can receive alerts specific to their jurisdictions. The app also serves as research infrastructure for severe weather communication research being conducted under National Science Foundation funding. User locations and alerting preferences are tracked and their feedback is collected through app-based surveys and analyzed. Data collected through the app is being used to write academic papers on user behavior during severe weather and effectiveness of alerting messages.

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