Category: Disaster/Risk Assessment


Posted by – September 6, 2017

Cameron Beccario has created earth, a viewer for global weather data that can be used to create images like this, a rendering of surface winds in the North Atlantic as Hurricane Irma approaches Cuba:

According to the website, earth is a visualization of global weather conditions forecast by supercomputers updated every three hours, including ocean surface current estimates updated every five days, ocean surface temperatures and anomaly from daily average (1981-2011) updated daily, adn ocean waves updated every three hours.

Thanks to Steve for the tip,


P.S. And to all my friends deploying with Red Cross: be safe, and I hope somebody thanks you every day for doing the work that you do.

NWS Discovers Caps Lock

Posted by – April 13, 2016

The National Weather Service has announced that, starting May 11, it would stop yelling at you, and no longer issue its official forecasts formatted exclusively in uppercase letters. NWS noted that the uppercase format was a relic of an era when teleprinters only used uppercase letters, but recent upgrades in the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System are allowing for the change to mixed-case letters. Getting the public to respond appropriately to warnings and alerts is an ongoing challenge for the NWS, but mixed case will allow for better organization and emphasis in it’s official forecasts.


For the Umbraphiles

Posted by – March 12, 2016

NASA has released the view from space of the March 9 total solar eclipse, as recorded by the Deep Space Climate Observatory satellite. The below animation shows the complete passage of the lunar shadow from one edge of the Earth to the other, from the Indian Ocean to the open waters and islands of the Pacific Ocean. DSCOVR is the Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space, hovering between the sun and Earth to provide advanced solar measurements and early warnings of potentially dangerous space weather events – a solar storm buoy in deep space.


Record Warmth in 2015

Posted by – January 31, 2016

AGU reports that NASA and NOAA independently assessed that the planet’s average surface temperature jumped to a new high in 2015, except for a cool spot in the North Atlantic. Based on about 6300 stations, ships and buoys, both agencies found the average global temperature had increased compared to 2014 – which had also been a record year. NASA found the average was 0.87°C higher than the average temperature over 1951 – 1980, where NOAA found a 0.90°C increase compared to the average over 1901 – 2000. The below image, courtesy of the Scientific Visualization Studio at Goddard Space Flight Center, shows the 2015 change from the longterm average temperature, with hottest areas on Earth in red and the coldest in blue.
Global average temperature 2015
Compliments to Cody Sullivan, AGU Intern, for the excellent article in EOS this past week!


2015 is Not Over Yet

Posted by – December 27, 2015

On the heels of devastating storms that killed 11 in North Texas December 26, @CraigatFEMA (FEMA Director Craig Fugate) warns that the rough weather will continue into the New Year, caused by a low pressure system moving slowly north/northeastward from the lower Mississippi Valley. Not only a valuable warning of the rain, snow, ice and flooding we will likely see the week of December 28-January 1, this forecast and map are examples of the fine work done by the Climate Prediction Office of the National Weather Service.
Have a Safe New Year,

P.S. For information on the North Texas Tornadoes and to donate, please contact the American Red Cross of North Texas

Planning for Space Weather

Posted by – November 15, 2015

Capping off a year-long interagency collaboration, the White House has released the National Space Weather Action Plan to improve national resilience to the potentially devastating effects of major solar flares.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center provides a useful summary of current conditions and predictions, including a series of dashboards summarizing information targeted at specific user communities, such as Emergency Managers.

Thanks to AGU for the tip!


Emergency App

Posted by – May 17, 2015

The American Red Cross has released a smartphone app that helps you check on family and friends during emergencies, appropriately called Emergency:

The app is easy to use and has options for monitoring hazards in your area and for pinging loved ones that may be in the vicinity of an emergency. Load it on your kids’ phones so you can quickly check on them, too. Available for free download (Android or iOS) – ahora disponible en español también!



Posted by – May 4, 2015

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has his own Twitter stream, @CraigatFEMA, and often tweets useful information on disasters, conferences, and policies. One of his most recent was to highlight a map of the potential for wildland fires across the US:
Map of fire potential for U.S.

Visualizing Hurricane Track Uncertainty

Posted by – April 19, 2015

The National Hurricane Center has steadily improved hurricane models over the past 25 years, as shown in this animation of uncertainties in the 48-hour predicted location of a hurricane’s center (mp4 video):
NHC 48 hr forecast uncertainty

NHC is also prototyping
storm surge mapping tools and conducting in-house (non-public) experiments with extending tropical cyclone track and intensity forecasts to seven days from the current five-day period; creating track and intensity forecasts for disturbances with a high chance of formation; and issuing tropical cyclone watches and warnings before cyclones form.


P.S. Although I like seeing how uncertainty declines with time, I don’t think the animation adds much to this over the simple contours labelled by year.

Best Map App

Posted by – November 16, 2014

Google Maps is still the gold standard for smartphone mapping apps, according to NY Times columnist Molly Woods, who recently compared three smartphone mapping applications – Google Maps (iOS, Android), Apple Maps (iOS), and Here (WinPhone, Nokia). Apple Maps has made progress since its failed 2012 debut, but, according to Woods, Google Maps is still the winner. All of these provide some version of turn-by-turn directions, voice integration, flyover and vector-based maps; given that they are all free, I’d suggest you try out whichever one is available for your smartphone to see which is best for you. My choice is None of the Above: I’ve used Scout, (free, iOS) for the past two years because I like its interface and its ability to share my ETA along with a link to a map of my current location. And, if you subscribe, you can download the OpenStreetMaps region of your choice and use Scout off-line – a real plus if you are out of cell range or during disaster responses.