Map Stories – April 27, 2014 Tornado (Mayflower and Vilonia, AR)

This Entergy substation SW of Mayflower received a direct hit from yesterday's tornado.  Click the image to view the preliminary track of the storm

This Entergy substation SW of Mayflower received a direct hit from yesterday’s tornado. Click the image to open an interactive map for this point as well as other areas along the damage path.

It’s April again and that unfortunately means it’s tornado season.  Clicking the image to your right will take you to an interactive story map showing the tornado path for this storm, with links to videos, pictures and other supporting information.  The story shows a step by step view over a 60 minute period during the life of this tornado.

This storm rotation path is based on NWS Weather Radar observations.  Points were added to depict the center of rotation at roughly five minute intervals as the radar updated.  Those points are then connected to depict an approximate rotation path, which is then buffered on each side to depict a 1/4 mile, 1/2 mile and 1 mile wide area.  The tornado width has not yet been determined by NWS Little Rock, however these ranges help to depict likely impact areas, with the most likely impact area being the 1/4 mile wide corridor (red area), followed by the orange area (1/2 mile wide corridor) and finally the 1 mile wide corridor (yellow area).

Additionally, the damage photos and videos were added to the story map AFTER the damage path was created.  This means that as videos and pictures are reported to/by local media, social media, emergency managers, etc., the location of the photos can be compared against the preliminary estimated damage path in order to verify the accuracy of the information.

The preliminary impact corridor is essentially serving to identify the hazard zone.  On top of that map, information on community facilities, demographics, etc can be overlaid, thus creating an realtime operational impact analysis or risk assessment.  That in turn can be used to help refine the response to the hazard so the community can respond and then recover as fast as possible.

When you don’t know the impact zone of any natural disaster, it’s nearly impossible to get your arms around the situation and make sure that the appropriate resources are being called upon to assist in the response.  However when the impact zone is clearly identified, it can facilitate improved collaboration and effectiveness of the response – from individual citizens and neighbors, to community groups, charities and finally local, state and national officials.

If you find this resource helpful, please pass it on to others.  Thanks.


Interactive ESRI Story Maps view of the April 27, 2014 tornado that impacted Mayflower and Vilonia, AR.



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.

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.

Crowd Sourcing Tropical Systems Using the Dvorak Technique

CycloneCenter uses the Dvorak Technique to classify systems.  For more information, please visit:

As the first blog post of 2013, I wanted to share a link I recently discovered that incorporates trends in data, crowd sourcing, weather and science.  Regardless of your experience, age or background, this post is for you – you can have a part in determining the strength of a tropical system.

Have you ever wondered how scientists classify tropical systems?  Usually that involves analyzing numerous observations from land or ocean systems, flying aircraft into systems, taking measurements  through upper air balloons, etc.  However one tool that they use is a technique known as the Dvorak Technique, named after Vernon Dvorak.  Dvorak discovered that the intensity of a tropical cyclone could be skillfully approximated by the cloud patterns on a single satellite image and he developed and improved his method (now called the “Dvorak Technique”) in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The technique consists of a set of 10 steps, which can be simplified to produce the answers to four important questions: Continue reading

Using Digital Maps to Study Digital Preparedness and History – WNYC

New Tech City: Using Digital Maps To Study Disaster Preparedness and History – WNYC.

Genius!!  Pure genius!  This is a major challenge with disaster preparedness today, and learning lessons from history and previous disasters are essential to minimizing impacts from future disasters.  Case and point NYC… With Hurricane Sandy, the storm surge was referenced as being a record surge.. even higher than the hurricane that occurred in 1821.  This still begs the question – “what if the hurricane of 1821 happened again today… what would the impact be?”  Additionally, as stated in, the 1821 storm actually struck at LOW tide.. meaning the Category 3 storm then could have produced a tide level even higher than Sandy had it struck 12 hours earlier or later.  Again.. this means for preparedness… “THIS COULD HAPPEN…”   Again, great advances in technology, now we just have to put it together to answer the core questions… what if it happened again today, and how could we be more prepared…

Traffic Jam: How O.J., Katrina, and 9/11 hit mobile networks

CNN Money just released a great article on how the O.J. verdict, Katrina, the 2011 East Coast Earthquake and 9/11 hit mobile networks.  This is a really good article visually depicting the network links and how mobile network operations centers use this information (reporting by exceptions) to identify anomalies in the network in order to compensate and provide stability to the changes in the network load.  When looking at this from a disaster context, many people want to “see what is different about this event” however if that is all that you do, it’s really just a waste of time and resources.  The anomalies need to be tied back to actions that can be taken, and in the case of the private sector or government response, the questions should be tied back to assessing how can this information can be used to protect against impacts to life and property, and in the business world – profitability.

Traffic Jam: How O.J., Katrina, and 9/11 hit mobile networks – AT&T’s Global Network Operations Center (1) – CNNMoney.

Radar Derived Storm Paths from the 4/14/2012 Tornado Outbreak

Click the Image to Open an Interactive Map Depicting Rotation Paths for Spotter Confirmed Tornadoes

[UPDATED: 4/17/2012 – 12am CT – Several National Weather Service Forecast Offices have completed preliminary storm surveys.  The product I created Saturday evening has been verifying very well, especially with the long-tracked storms.  Comparisons will be added for each tornado below.]

First off.. my thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by today’s tornadoes, especially in Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Iowa.  I’ve put together path tracks of the tornadoes based on radar data.

I hope this has helped some people today save lives, and in the days to come, I hope it helps people recover faster from the storms.

Below is an interactive map that is based on spotter confirmed significant tornadic storms.  The points on the map UNOFFICIALLY depict the most likely areas where a tornado went based on radar products from the National Weather Service.  It will likely take several days for authorities in the area to fully assess the damage, but in the mean time, I hope this helps people as a starting point.  Once official damage surveys are released, I’ll be merging them into the map. Also, please note that while the radar may indicate a continuous path, detailed damage assessments and storm surveys may end up splitting these storms into separate tornadoes.

Continue reading

Preliminary Path Estimate for the 4/13/2012 Norman, OK Tornado

Preliminary likely tornado path created at 600pm CT

This post covers the Friday 4/13/2012 tornado that impacted Norman, OK in the evening hours.  The tornado outbreak continues into Saturday.  For the newest blog post covering the Saturday, 4/14/2012 Tornado Outbreak with interactive map, Click Here. (THIS INCLUDES THE PATH OF THE WEDGE TORNADO SW OF SALINA, KS)

4/13 – 1028pm CT – Added link to NWS Norman preliminary UNOFFICIAL track map from @NWSNorman

4/13 – 928pm CT – Updated interactive map to include links to media video and photo of damage with locations.  The locations verify quite well with the initial map points

It’s incredible to think of how today progressed…. First I shared a presentation on this topic to several of my peers around the country to share a methodology with the hopes of helping people tomorrow and in other tornado outbreaks, and the next thing I know, I’m talking to my brother in Oklahoma who is trying to get home to Norman after school, with a tornado warning for his home town.  It’s amazing to see the impact of how technology and information can be brought together to help protect lives.  I ended up helping guide him home to keep out of the storm while the tornado passed less than 1/2 mile from his house, telling him to stay put and keeping him out of harm, but still guiding him home.  Thankfully everyone in the family is safe, but it’s incredible to know that it makes a difference so close to home.

Continue reading

Preliminary Radar Based Rotation Paths – Devine, Natalia, Lytle, TX

During the evening of March 19, 2012, numerous supercell thunderstorms were observed across portions of the Southern Plains.  One of these storms impacted areas just southwest of San Antonio, TX near the towns of Devine, Natalia and Lytle, TX.  While further from the radar site (~60 miles from the radar in Austin, TX), the rotation signatures are definitely present on radar.  Additionally these signatures and their paths are typical of a supercell thunderstorm that “cycles” – essentially where one area of rotation weakens, and a new area of rotation emerges.  Note the time stamps (UTC times) and follow the intersection of the red/green colors along the path as the radar animation progresses.  Also, note how the paths curve to the left before weakening, and then a new area of rotation emerges to the right of the old one.  This is quite typical of a supercells that cycle.

We’ll learn more in the morning and as tomorrow progresses, but if I was to make an educated guess on the areas potentially impacted, they would be as follows: Continue reading

Can Big Data Help Streamline Government?

Yesterday, I read a good article about #BigData from Tibco.  The article is entitled “The 4 Biggest Problems with Big Data“.  The four main points are critical for business growth and profitability as well as for addressing key gaps in marketing and outreach capabilities.  These are great concepts for businesses that have profit/loss numbers that determine whether or not the companies survive.  However when we look at the incredible amounts of information, regulations, laws, documents, as well as the diversity of programs that government creates and runs at federal, state and local levels, I often wonder why I have not seen so many more people preaching the message of Big Data as a means to streamline government? Continue reading