Deadly Tornadoes Cut Through Central Oklahoma (Edmond, Carney, Norman, Bethel Acres, Shawnee)

Earlier this evening, several supercells erupted in Central Oklahoma, producing several strong to violent tornadoes.  These tornadoes impacted communities such as Edmond, Carney, Norman, Bethel Acres and Shawnee.  Much of the attention now including prayers have been focused on those impacted in a mobile home park directly in the path of the tornado where at least one fatality has occurred.

The following link goes to an interactive map showing the approximate paths of the three most significant tornadoes that impacted Central Oklahoma.  The map has a bookmark feature where you can view the Edmond, Carney and Norman to Shawnee tornadoes.  Similar tornado path maps have been very helpful and highly accurate for other significant tornadoes events over the past several years.

Click on the graphic to launch an interactive map.

Click on the graphic to launch an interactive map. The map contains bookmarks for the 3 tornadoes as well as an address lookup feature.

This information is unofficial information, but is based upon NWS Radar scans and uses the National Climate Data Center Weather/Climate Toolkit (NCDC WCT) and ESRI’s ArcGIS Online.  For official storm survey results, please follow the National Weather Service in Norman, Oklahoma (@NWSNorman).  In the coming days, the National Weather Service will be performing storm damage surveys.  When more information is made available, I’ll be linking to those products.


Thank you for your support of DisasterMapping

As we approach 35000 visits to this blog and the single largest traffic day in the past two years with 1200+ unique visitors, I wanted to share some thoughts about the direction of the site. 

Originally when I started blogging , I was interested in looking at the application of geographic information systems and mapping to the disaster response and emergency management context.  Over time, I’ve learned a few key lessons about disaster communication that will guide where we go from here. Nature abhors a vacuum and good old fashioned journalism combined with critical thinking provides an opportunity to answer the questions that so many people are asking.

On peak days, most of the volume is driven to this site not by Twitter or Facebook but by everyday web searches like Google, Yahoo & Bing.  People are looking for answers to the events theyve seen unfold in the world around them.

Likewise when media (mainstream media or social media) or officials exaggerate or provide erroneous information people notice.  A great example of this is a tweet I just saw from Jason Prentice: “‘So, NBC Nightly News leads with Texas tornadoes “Out of Nowhere” while @CBSNews has accurate stat on 26 minute lead time. Who wins?'”

In the world disaster response people have long memories – people remember when you mess up. People remember when you didn’t do your homework.  People search out more trustworthy sources when you’ve you proven to be untrustworthy in the past.  And finally, when you can’t give people the answers they’re looking for they will go search for other sources even if that doesn’t paint a complete picture.

That brings me back to the purpose of the site. I share thoughts and ideas in order to stimulate discussion.  If that process helps people to engage with the world around them and help people to ask questions that help solve disaster management challenges then I’ve done my job to contribute to the dialogue.

Did you find an article interesting?  If so, I encourage you to share with people around you. Start talking about the ideas and thoughts – ask questions, because it is through that process that we will find the answers to many of our disaster management challenges.

With that said, I want to thank you again for your support and for taking time to read the articles on this site.

5/15/2013 – DFW Area Tornado Outbreak (Granbury and Cleburne Tornadoes)

– At least 6 dead in Hood County –
Preliminary Ratings Per NWS Fort Worth – Granbury – EF-4; Cleburne EF-3


Aerial damage photo from the area hardest hit by the Granbury tornado. Photo via National Weather Service – Fort Worth Facebook Page –

On the evening of May 15th, strong to violent tornadoes went through portions of Hood County and Johnson County, TX.  Six people were killed in the Granbury area from this storm, and multiple tornadoes were produced as the storm cell tracked through the region.   The maps below were created from radar images, and depict the rotation paths of the tornadoes as they impacted areas near Granbury and Cleburne, TX.  As you can see from the images, the storms progressed from WNW to ESE (you can look at the timestamps), however the tornadoes tracked from south to north while they were on the ground.  I’m sure this scenario has occurred before, but the differences between the storm motion and the path of the tornadoes themselves could be lending to some of the initial confusion in reporting areas impacted.CombinedRotationPaths

Granbury Tornado (Hood County, TX) – As of the morning after the storm, authorities in Hood County were reporting -6- fatalities from the storm, with nearly 100 injuries.  Based on radar observations, correlated to scanner reports of streets impacted, below is some preliminary information on primary impact area.  The hardest hit area was located south and east of Granbury, TX on the north side of Lake Granbury.  Some areas / roads in the area most impacted include the area near Rancho Brazos Estates / Tumbleweed Lane ( – Google Maps Link).  There were a number of tweets reporting structural damage, homes collapsed.  Looking more closely at some of the buildings in this area show that many homes are mobile homes, likely contributing to the high casualty numbers.

Tornado Debris Signature ~810pm CT depicting debris from the Granbury Tornado

NWS Dual-Pol Radar image showing Correlation Coefficient (CC) and the Tornado Debris Signature ~810pm CT.  Low values of CC in areas with high rotation (likely tornado areas) are consistent w/ debris being produced by a tornado on the ground.  This location correlates with law enforcement and social media reports describing the hardest hit areas. (click for larger image)


Rotation Path for the 5/15/13 Tornado – Hood County, TX (Aerial – Click for larger image)

Bing Maps imagery showing the area hardest hit by the Granbury tornado.  Note the concentration of mobile homes in the center of the image.  Many homes were "wiped off their foundation".  Because of their vulnerability to winds, my guess is that these homes were some of the hardest hit in the area.

Bing Maps imagery showing the area hardest hit by the Granbury tornado. Note the concentration of mobile homes in the center of the image. Many homes were “wiped off their foundation”. Because of their vulnerability to winds, my guess is that these homes were some of the hardest hit in the area. (Click for larger image)


Rotation Path for the 5/15/13 Tornado – Hood County, TX (Street Map – Click for larger image)

Damage photo via Twitter (WFAA screenshot)

Later in the evening, another large tornado (reported by spotters to the NWS as a mile-wide tornado) impacted areas South and West of Cleburne, TX.  One of my best friends from College lives there, so I’m quite familiar with that part of town.  There is a lot of new residential development in that part of town – single story homes, most without basements, however the relative age of the homes hopefully means that they’re built to withstand stronger winds.  The roofs in most of this area are hip roofs which hold up better to stronger winds.  Here’s a link to Google Maps to Southwestern parts of Cleburne (  I’ll update more as I hear more from the Cleburne area, but the radar images did not look good.  Thankfully though, the strongest radar images occurred outside of town.  Below are the timestamps (UTC) showing the rotation path through the Cleburne area.

Picture of mile wide tornado (backlit from lightning) near Rio Vista, TX – via Fox4 Weather Facebook Page


Rotation Path for the 5/15/13 Tornado – Cleburne, TX (Aerial – click for larger image)


Rotation Path for the 5/15/13 Tornado – Cleburne, TX (Street Map – click for larger image)

Damage to houses along Lakecrest Court in Cleburne (image from WFAA).  For more pictures from WFAA, visit

Damage to houses along Lakecrest Court in Cleburne (image from WFAA). For more pictures from WFAA, visit  Note: Lakecrest Court is located almost exactly at the 0215 UTC location dot on the previous map, depicting the approximate path of the tornado.

Power Outage Blacks Out Super Bowl Advertising??? Think again. “Not a Problem…”

Along with millions of others, you probably saw the power outage in the Super Bowl. During the stoppage in play, CBS did not air additional advertised commercials, but that didn’t stop advertisers from quick thinking / responding on their toes. The outage occurred at about 7:37 local time, and within 11 minutes @oreo posted one of the first major advertising tweets of the outage.  When all was said and done, more than 14,000 retweets had occurred and 4500+ people saved the tweet in their favorites.  The ad was simple and to the point, and connected with so many who were “left in the dark”.

Just take a look and decide for yourself – How effective is this $0.00 ad compared to the nearly $4 million for a 30 second broadcast advertisement in this year’s Big Game?

Award for advertiser thinking on their feet

32 Maps that Explain the World

GREAT post from Business Insider.  For those of you who love maps, current events, politics, social media, pretty much any hot topic, you’ll find at least one of these 32 maps hitting on key point of interest.  Definitely worth your time to look through and see the visual representations of the world around us!

32 Maps that Explain the Entire World

Maps That Explain The World – Business Insider.

Is the worst flu season in the past several years? Google says it is and here are the maps to prove it.

Graph of Google Flu Trends for the United States - As of 1/10/2013

Graph of Google Flu Trends 2012-2013 Flu Season in the United States – As of 1/10/2013

Over the past several days, there have been an increasing number of stories about this year’s flu season (2012-2013 flu season) being one of the worst in several years (Huffington Post, Boston Herald, NY Post).  There are even stories of schools closing down for a day because of high absenteeism because of illness (Oklahoma, Minnesota)  Starting in 2003, Google began tracking search terms because there was a correlation between words people were searching for and the intensity of the flu season.  As a result, the site was created.  One of the best items with this site though is that Google allows users to download data (CSV) for analysis.  As a result, the following maps were created to depict the strength of this year’s flu season in comparison to previous years.  As you can see, the 2003-2004 (H3N2) season and the 2009-2010 (H1N1) season are the worst seasons according to Google flu trends data since 2003 when the information was first tracked.

Additionally, the Google flu trends data is tracked and updated daily, while the data from state health organizations and the CDC is usually 1-2 weeks behind the actual occurrences.  This is for a number of reasons (onset of symptoms vs seeking treatment, delay in reporting, etc), but the Google trends charts are very similar to the charts disseminated by the CDC.  With this in mind, expect a surge in stories from states and localities beginning to implement health emergency plans for extremely high levels of flu activity.

Map Google Flu Trends Data - Showing Worst Season Since 2003-2004

(Above) Map Google Flu Trends Data – Showing Worst Season Since 2003-2004


(Above) Current (As of 1/10/13) Google Flu Trends Values Relative to Previous Record (2003-2013)

UPDATE: North Korea Launches Missile 12/12/12

Differences between Euclidean and Geodesic Buffers from ESRI 10.1 Help

UPDATE: 12/12/12 Korean Time (934pm EST on 12/11) – According to the Associated Press, North Korea has test fired its long range missile.  More information will be coming out as nations in the region and around the world analyze the launch and respond through official channels.  At this time though, preliminary information shows that the missile was launched towards the south and passed over or near Okinawa early Wednesday morning local time.

Additionally, in following up from the original post, Darren Wiens has assembled several posts depicting maps for the 10,000km geodesic buffer.  GREAT work in applying the original post topic to create relevant related content.

Please check out his content as well, as it’s a great way to tie together the concepts discussed in this post and related articles.

Continue reading

Viral PSA “Dumb Ways To Die” Takes Youtube By Storm

Everyone gets tired of the typical Public Service Announcement (PSA) that you hear and immediately tune out on the radio or television.  However there is a PSA taking Australia, Youtube and the internet by storm!  This is a brilliant way to approach PSAs – from a cost perspective, the viral nature of the ad, the simplicity of the approach.  It’s definitely worth the time to watch and share!

So what is the title of this PSA??? Well it’s called “Dumb Ways to Die”…  You’ll have to watch the video below to see what it’s about!  But you’ll get to the end and be quite surprised at where the video is going, especially since it doesn’t even seem like a PSA!!  Or you can even download it from ITunes here, check out their website –, look at the hashtag on twitter #DumbWaysToDie.  The lyrics are available after the video and additional story links are below as well. Continue reading

Filmmaker Captures Incredible “Fire Tornado” in the Australian Outback

It’s not every day you see a tornado first hand… and it’s not every day that you see a tornado-like event in a wildfire.  But what are the odds that it lasts for 40 minutes and you have a filmmaker with his camera on the scene?

Filmmaker Chris Tangey Witnesses 40-Minute Long Fire Vortex in Australian Outback | Video |

Heroes of Isaac – Team Braithwaite Foundation – Facing and Overcoming The Storms


You need to read this story because it embodies the challenges we face, and how we each can respond.  This is definitely a story that needs to be shared with as many people as possible, not because of the tragedy, but because of the American spirit embodied in this story – We help one another, we step up in times of trouble, and when we’re hit and knocked down, we get back up and keep going – just like the Shaffers in Braithwaite Louisiana.

After Hurricane Isaac, the Shaffer family set up the Team Braithwaite Foundation to help families impacted by Hurricane Isaac.  They’ve given clothes away, and received a number of donations from those who were not hit as hard by the storm.

But another storm hit this weekend when thieves stole nearly $15,000 worth of supplies meant for victims of the storm. Continue reading