So what exactly is DisasterMap.net?

Posted on February 8, 2017 By

Storm Damage Across Southeast States

Here at DisasterMap.net, our objective is “to provide our users with near complete situational awareness in real time as disaster events unfold.”  I’ve been told by more than one MBA that this objective is complicated and hard to understand.  Another way to put it is that DisasterMap.net is a web based information system that allows you to track natural disasters in realtime, but I know that that is also a mouthful   One day, we’d like to hire to a marketing specialist to come up with a perfectly worded objective that convenes the breadth of information that our website and related services provide.  In the meantime, this blog post uses the recent severe weather that impacted the central Gulf Coast, particularly the New Orleans area, to illustrate this objective and answer the question of what exactly is DisasterMap.net?

Our website contains a number of key elements to help you gain near complete awareness of  the situation in areas that have been impacted by a natural disaster. (Note that our service is currently limited to the United States.)  Our homepage contains three of these elements: a map viewer, a RSS feed, and a Twitter feed.  It also has a link to our full-sized, interactive webmap.  Together these four tools provide both a quick visual overview of the impacted area, and they allow you to get information on how on specific neighborhoods.  Both the map viewer and the full-sized, interactive webmap use Leaflet.  Instructions on how to navigate around them and obtain information are available here.

The RSS and Twitter feeds on our homepage provide both official government agency information and rapid social media reports from the impacted areas.  Additionally, we also create Rapid Event Summaries for major disasters, such as Hurricane Matthew.  Finally, our Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn pages all provide updates and summaries of events before, during, and immediately after disasters.

(At this stage I should note that I am primarily a consultant.  Presently I am only able to post updates when the opportunity occurs, though our long term plan involves building out the webservices.)

Information Available in the Interactive Webmap

While the different elements are designed to come together to provide near complete awareness of the situation on the ground, the full-sized, interactive webmap is the most information rich tool in our tool set.  Built using the Leaflet JavaScript web mapping library, it contains both a large list of layers and a full set of interactive tools.  Yesterday’s severe weather system provides a good example.

The screenshot below, captured around mid-morning, shows tornado warnings for the greater New Orleans area along with a shelter open in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  The red polygons are tornado warnings from the National Weather Service that were in effect at the time.  When you click on one of them, a popup window will give additional information.

Tornado warnings for the greater New Orleans area.

Tornado warnings for the greater New Orleans area.  (Note that this screenshot is actually from our Android app which is currently under development with release scheduled by the end of February.)

A few minutes later, multiple tornado field reports were visual in the area.  These are real time reports that are published by NOAA’s Local Storm Reports program. Throughout the day the breadth of the area impacted by the storm became visible in the form of tornado, wind, and hail reports across 7 states in the southeast.

One of the full sized map’s most useful interactive features are the popup infowindows.  These provide additional details about the features shown on the map.  For example, if you click on a shelter it will give you the name, location, and population of the shelter.

Shelter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Shelter in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  Note that this screenshot is from the desktop version of our full-sized map.

In addition to layers from the official government agencies, the full-sized map also shows Mapquest’s realtime traffic service.  This layer is actually very useful as traffic impacts are one of the first indicators of severe damage.  For example, this screenshot shows the closure of Hwy 90/Chef Mentuer Highway after the tornado swept through the area.

Traffic Impacts of New Orleans East Tornado

Traffic Impacts of the New Orleans East Tornado.  The triangles with exclamation points depict specific closures, the grey line across the middle is the closed section of the the highway, and the red lines denote secondary backups due to the closure.

Later that day, the local storm report of the New Orleans tornado was updated to include initial damage assessment information from New Orleans emergency preparedness office.  Specifically: “APPROXIMATELY 60 HOUSES AND STRUCTURES WITH VARYING DEGREES OF DAMAGE. APPROXIMATELY 25 INJURIES REPORTED.”

New Orleans Tornado - Initial Damage Assessment

New Orleans Tornado – Initial Damage Assessment

New Orleans and southeast Louisiana suffered the most severe impacts of the storm.   However, as it moved east throughout the rest of the day, the storm prompted additional warnings, watches, advisories and storm reports across the central Gulf Coast region.

Tornado watches for Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

Tornado watches for Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

 

Putting it All Together

By the end of the day, there were 12 tornado reports from likely 5 or 6 different tornadoes (single tornadoes can generate multiple reports and none of them are verified until NWS completes field surveys the next day) along with around 30 hail reports and nearly 80 reports of wind damage.  Damage covered 8 states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Kentucky.  While scattered flood warnings were released throughout the day, the fast moving system did not accumulate rainfall at any specific location and no USGS water gauges reached “near flood stage” status.  If they had, they would have shown up on the map.

Storm Damage Across Southeast States

Storm Damage Across Southeast States.

The idea behind DisasterMap.net is to bring multiple sources of information together into a single, realtime and interactive platform that provides as near a complete picture as possible.  While we cannot help you taste or smell a disaster impacted area, we can help you see the sights and hear the sounds from the ground.  We also believe that you will feel something.  With the severe system that impacted greater New Orleans, this objective culminated in this rapid assessment, based off information available through our full-sized, interactive map and illustrated using social media pictures and video (make sure the scroll the comments to view the videos and pictures from the impacted area.)

I hope that this blog post will help you better understand the amount of information that you can easily obtain through DisasterMap.net.  Whether you are checking on family across town or friends across the country, we want to help you stay informed of the conditions at the specific locations that concern you.  If you have any questions or suggestions, do not hesitate to contact use, either via email, through one of our social media accounts, or by leaving a comment below.

 

Crisis MappingDisaster GeographyDisaster MappingDisaster RecoveryDisaster ReliefDisaster ResponseDisasterMap.netNatural DisasterNOAASocial MediaTornadoUncategorized     , , , , , , , ,


DisasterMap.net in the News Recently

Posted on November 7, 2016 By

Louisiana Resettlement Zone Map

News reports last week featured two recent DisasterMap.net projects.

Working with Gulf Restoration Network, we created a set of maps and population figures that examine the impact of possible “resettlement zones” in Louisiana.  This assessment of the at risk population was featured in this report on WDSU Channel 6 earlier this week. In the Channel 6 report, a Venetian Isles  homeowner says that his house is elevated 17 ft. above the ground. In the future, it is very likely that the state will no longer offer elevation grants for homes that need be 14 ft. or more above ground. These homeowners will only be offered resettlement assistance.

New Orleans East Landbridge Resettlement Zone Map

New Orleans East Landbridge Resettlement Zone Map. The report on Channel 6 features a homeowner in Ventian Isles, which is located in the center of the map.

 

Also this week, the biweekly Petrochemical Accident Map produced with Louisiana Bucket Brigade was featured in this article from the Times-Picayune|Nola.com.  Our previous map, the first one is this ongoing series, received coverage in Facing South and Free Speech Radio News. When working on this current release, it shocked me to learn that an entire family was sickened in their home by a mysterious odor of unknown source.

New Orleans East Landbridge Resettlement Zone Map

New Orleans East Landbridge Resettlement Zone Map shows the location of accidents reports from the National Response Center and Bucket Brigade iWitness Pollution Reporting System.

 

Though not recent, DisasterMap.net‘s owner and creator Dr. Ezra Boyd was interviewed by CNN on his research on fatalities associated with Hurricane Katrina.  Maps based off this research were also featured in this CNN piece and this follow up article.  Finally, this article on Nola.com describes our initial assessment of the population affected by the August 2016 flood and was the top viewed article for nearly 20 hours.

 

Links:

GRN Press Release

GRN Companion Document

Maps produced for GRN

 

LABB Accident Report Press Release

LABB Accident Report (Oct 7 – 20)

LABB Accident Report (Sept 15 – Oct 6)

Climate ChangeCNNCoast GuardCrisis MappingDisaster MappingGulf Restoration NetworkInfrastructureLouisiana Bucket BrigadeLouisiana Flood 2016Petrochemical AccidentsUncategorized     , , ,


Typhoon Chaba kills 7

Posted on October 7, 2016 By

Note:  This post original appeared in the Natural Hazards, GIS and Disaster Management blog and is used with permission from the author.

 

Typhoon Chaba has killed 7 people in South Korea after causing heavy rainfall and devastating floods. The island of Jeju and cities Busan and Ulsan witnessed the worst impacts.

 

Warnings were issued for heavy rainfall, floods and storm surge in Japan after the typhoon moved towards the country.

 

Over 100 flights in Japan and South Korea were cancelled, numerous factories closed and 2500 schools in South Korea were also closed. Thousands of homes along the coast of South Korea lost electricity.

 

Typhoon Chaba developed on 26 September and was upgraded to typhoon status on 1 October. The highest winds recorded were 270 km/hour (165 mph) and the lowest pressure recorded was 905 mbar. The maximum wind speed makes this typhoon a Cat 5 on the Saffir Simpson Scale.

 

 Typhoon Chaba started weakening on 4 October and was eventually downgraded to an extratropical system.

 

(Source: NOAA)
(Source: NASA)
(Source: NASA)
(Source: NASA)
(Source: BBC)
(Source: BBC)
(Source: BBC)
(Source: BBC)
(Source: BBC)
(Source: BBC)
(Source: BBC)

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