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

Mapping the Zombie Apocalypse


What would you do???

When we think of mapping using GIS for disasters and emergencies, we think of tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and the like.  When we think of education, we often think of the same old off-the-shelf material from a book that we just take and share thinking we’re teaching.  However in both cases, we miss out on one of the joys of education.  Applying knowledge from one discipline or area to other areas of life…

Many of my followers on Twitter (Follow @emgis on Twitter) and this blog know of the CDC’s preparedness campaign from earlier this year on Zombie Preparedness – “Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse“.  However most people who are familiar with the preparedness campaign are from the Social Media for Emergency Management (#SMEM hashtag on Twitter) community.  Most of them are not GIS people and haven’t seen how Geographic Information Systems (#GIS hashtag on Twitter) can improve our preparedness for Zombies (and for other disasters…)  Additionally, the Connected Principals Chat community (#cpchat hashtag on Twitter) could benefit from this post because it provides another way to engage students and parents on a number of levels.  You may not use zombies for important information to share, but please take a look at these examples and think of how you can apply this to your discipline and the content that you find important to share with others.

Enter the Zombie Apocalypse… Continue reading

Operational Context – Extreme Rainfall


Today’s post is part 3 of a series on Operational Context (View the other posts in the series here).  In this third series, we will be looking at the same questions that we’ve been looking at throughout this series.  Today’s post will be looking at rainfall amounts, and is tied very closely to the last post on drought.  Essentially, many of the same datasets for extreme rainfall and drought can be used with one another, it’s just that the rainfall data is looking for an absence of rainfall when you’re looking at drought.  This will also tie into the next post on Operational Context – Flooding which will be looking at the extreme rainfall events and their impact as the water runs off.  So, let’s go ahead and look at today’s theme – extreme rainfall.

There are several ways to measure or estimate rainfall.  Most people know about rain gages and using them to measure rainfall (see examples in post on Innovative Ways to Teach the 3 M’s – Math, Maps, Measurement).  Rain gages are great for measuring what fell in a specific location, but there will always be gaps in coverage.  Rainfall can be enhanced or reduced by terrain or other geographic features, so point data by itself isn’t enough.  There are rain gages at major airports, and there are companies with portable weather stations where rainfall can be measured.  Additionally, did you know that you can participate in rainfall measurement directly by participating in CoCoRaHS (stands for Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network)? Continue reading

Tools for Tornado Response – Case Study from the May 24, 2011 Tornado Outbreak


2011 has been a prolific year for major tornado outbreaks.  We know of the storms that have impacted our cities and towns across the country.  We also are generally familiar with the devastating outbreaks affecting cities like Joplin, Tuscaloosa, St. Louis & Raleigh.  There is one outbreak though that many people overlooked because of the timing of the event.  This outbreak occurred in Central Oklahoma, produced 2 EF-4 tornadoes and one 60+ mile long EF-5 tornado.  However, due to the timing of the event, most of the nation’s focus was elsewhere on another community that was severely impacted.

On May 24th (2 days after Joplin), a number of tornadoes impacted central Oklahoma (NWS – Norman Event Summary).  The most powerful of these was rated as an EF-5 tornado impacting the El Reno area.  That storm was not only sampled by mobile and fixed weather radar, but the outer edges of the tornado actually were directly measured by the Oklahoma Mesonet station at El Reno (see images below).

The mesonet station measured a wind gust to 151mph (click on the photo to the left to visit the AMS blog).  There are nearly 120 stations throughout Oklahoma as a part of the Oklahoma Mesonet.  This information proves invaluable to having field verified weather observations that are directly measured.  Even though this tornado was on the ground for nearly 60 miles and had a width of 1 mile, direct measurements of this nature are not usually seen. There were 9 fatalities and nearly 200 injuries with this storm.

At nearly the same time as the El Reno/Piedmont storm was hitting those areas, two other storms were rolling through Central Oklahoma, further to the Southeast.  These two storms ended up tracking to less than ten miles from Norman Oklahoma where the National Weather Center is located – housing some of the nation’s brightest and best minds in severe weather research. Continue reading

Innovative Ways to Teach the 3 M’s – Math, Maps & Measurements


Across the country, K-12 educators are teaching students about maps, math, units of measurement and trying to find new ways to present these lessons to their students.  Likewise, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Professionals, Meteorologists & Emergency Managers are using these same themes on a daily basis to protect their communities from weather related events.  Many schools have explored adding weather stations to their schools, but sometimes this equipment can start to get expensive as the costs add up.  How can we use some innovative real-world methods and examples to teach our K-12 students these critical skills while we’re continually losing funds due to budget cuts? Continue reading