New Technology Facilitates Planning For Active Hurricane Season
Following predictions of an above average hurricane season, Applied Science Associates Inc. (ASA), Narragansett, R.I., introduced a computer modeling and mapping technology as an effective way for planners to visualize the potential impact from hurricanes and to prepare for catastrophic flooding events.
The 2008 Atlantic hurricane season is likely to be above normal, with up to 16 named storms and up to five major hurricanes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced, citing climate conditions.
One of the challenges in hurricane forecasting is communicating the potential impacts to the public, emergency responders and scientists.
ASA uses its Flood Inundation Toolbox to calculate flood extents based on flood elevation predictions, to produce flood maps and to distribute those maps via the Web. The ability to translate NOAA forecasts into a meaningful visual product improves the communication of risk to officials as well as the public. “By mapping the impact, storm surge and flood zones of hurricanes and other severe storms on actual up-to-date maps and satellite images, we can assess the risks associated with the onset, duration and severity of hurricane flooding and storm surge events and work to reduce vulnerability,” says ASA scientist Kelly Knee.
The tool includes a suite of Web services that allow distribution of integrated data within geographic references for environmental problems and crisis management solutions. The use of open standards allows for distribution of data to Web pages and e-mail feeds, and distributes warnings to mobile devices. Data can also be imported into a variety of widely used mapping applications such as Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth to provide high-resolution local context.