12th Conference on Cloud Physics


A Study of the GIS Tools Available During Tornado Events and Their Effectiveness for Meteorologists, First Responders and Emergency Managers

Shane A. Hubbard, Indiana Univ. and Purdue Univ., Indianapolis, IN; and K. J. MacLaughlin

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are increasingly becoming a necessity to many groups when it comes to natural disasters. GIS can provide meteorologists, first responders and emergency managers helpful tools that will allow for more accurate forecasts, better views of disaster areas, and more precise damage estimates. During a recent tornado event in Central and Southern Wisconsin, Wisconsin Emergency Management was able to use GIS data from various sources to provide agencies and groups responding to the disaster with high quality visual products that aided in the response efforts. This paper brings together and summarizes the tools used, their effectiveness, and discusses how and when each dataset was used. A collaboration with University of Wisconsin researchers, local officials, and the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs provided satellite views of damage paths, field reports of damage, and damage estimates to affected properties. The data allowed Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) to quickly identify the areas of greatest concern and helped WEM to direct agencies during the recovery stages of the tornado event. This tornado outbreak along with recently discovered GIS data will now allow WEM to respond to disasters more efficiently and effectively. Real-time weather data will allow WEM to quickly calculate a more accurate damage area and damage estimate for future disasters. The satellite images of the damage path, developed by the Environmental Remote Sensing Center at the University of Wisconsin Madison, showed remarkable agreement with field reports gathered by local officials and the Wisconsin State Cartographers Office. Later, radial velocity data was compared against field report data and satellite data. The results showed a hook echo and velocity couplet in perfect alignment with the aforementioned layers. Analysis showed the blending of these layers closely matched the actual damage path of the tornado. Thus, damage estimates were produced which closely coincided with the damages tabulated after the clean up was complete.


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Poster Session 2, Cloud Physics Poster Session II
Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM, Grand Terrace

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