Tracking Hurricane Ian with geospatial tools

Hurricane Ian, a powerful category four storm, made landfall on September 28e along the southwest coast of Florida near Cayo Costa around 3:05 p.m. ET with winds near 150 mph, making it a strong Category 4 storm, according to the US National Hurricane Center. This destructive natural event affected the Florida region, which has traditionally remained one of the most vulnerable places in the United States to severe flooding and hurricanes.

The storm is bringing devastating high winds, heavy rains and a historic storm surge to the state and causing significant power outages and flooding as it moves at a slow pace through central Florida over the past next two days. Hurricane Ian is said to be the strongest storm to make landfall on the west coast of the Florida peninsula, matching the wind speed of the extremely destructive Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Normal life in this US state has come to a standstill and theme parks such as Disney World, Sea World and Busch Gardens in Tampa have been closed, while NASA has postponed the planned launch of a moon rocket at Kennedy Space Center .

Damage to hurricane path

Hurricanes have been one of the most ruthless natural intruders to wreak massive havoc. For a layman, this is a deadly storm – much feared and dreaded. They are tropical cyclones, with organized thunderstorm activity that forms over tropical or subtropical waters. They draw their energy from the warm waters of the ocean.

The erosion and weakening of coastal areas and the destruction of coastal communities are the large-scale impacts of hurricanes from the resulting high sea levels, known as storm surge. Natural coastal features can be completely reshaped by the onslaught of a hurricane.

Economic losses affect the economy

“Severe weather events, especially hurricanes, have a significant economic impact on our country and around the world,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce Don Graves said during the NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour and the United States Air Force Reserve (USAFR) at Reagan National Airport. earlier in May 2022. “Four of the 20 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that hit our country in 2021 were directly caused by hurricanes.”

According to NOAA estimates of $310 billion in weather disasters between 1980 and 2021, tropical cyclones (or hurricanes) caused the most damage: more than $1.1 trillion in total, with an average cost of 20 $.5 billion per event. They are also responsible for the highest number of deaths: 6,697 between 1980 and 2021.

As Hurricane Ian batters areas in its path, prepare for the economic, social and environmental damage that will follow thereafter.

Geospatial tools used for forecasting, monitoring and damage assessments

Graves had further said at the same event in May 2022, “As the country prepares for another hurricane season, it is important that all Americans living in the potential paths of these storms, even well within coast, follow NOAA advice for preparation. Determine your risk, develop an evacuation plan, and gather any disaster supplies you may need in the event of a disaster.

Indeed, now is the time to do all of this and more – holistic integration of tracking, monitoring, setting up evacuation routines, and more. Today, with the advent of modern forecasting and warning systems, the level of awareness of a natural event has certainly been improved. The emergence of geospatial tools and their allied analytical models has further added great value in this context.

Hurricane Ian is continuously monitored and several geospatial real-time tracking platforms and tools have been closely monitoring its progress and have also made map analysis available for the public domain to refer to for their assistance in understanding in making appropriate evacuation decisions, etc.

The National Hurricane Center uses geospatial data and map analysis with its hurricane tracking tool called the National Hurricane Center Track Forecast Cone. The cone shown on a map represents the probable path of the center of the tropical cyclone.

The full spectrum of the hurricane’s track still remains uncertain due to the volatile nature of its origin. This tool is therefore also known as the “cone of uncertainty” and this title was particularly appropriate for Hurricane Ian, whose predicted path fluctuated by the hundreds. of miles as it turned into a dangerous storm.

The USGS prepared for the landfall of Hurricane Ian by deploying extensive equipment to measure oncoming waves, storm surges, and coastal changes. An interactive cartographic portal called the USGS Flood Event Viewer is now available which is collecting all available USGS information about Hurricane Ian in a single web portal.

Geospatial data collected by more than 150 sensors in Florida and along the Georgian coast deployed by the USGS Caribbean Florida Water Science Center and the USGS South Atlantic Water Science Center makes relevant data available.

In the aftermath of the storm, scientists can use information collected by sensors to improve future predictions of storm surges and coastal changes, as well as potentially guiding recovery efforts and identifying areas hardest hit by flooding. storm tides.

The USGS Coastal Change Risk Portal forecast for Hurricane Ian (https://www.usgs.gov/)

Moreover, the USGS Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer is another mapping platform that provides a 6-day hourly forecast of the potential for coastal change on Ian’s track. USGS experts are also working to update the USGS Coastal Change Risk Portal with the worst coastal impacts predicted for Ian.

Follow the path of the storm

The next few days will be filled with much tension and foreboding as the fury of Hurricane Ian continues to unleash.

Already, more than 1.3 million Florida utility customers are without power, and the storm surge has set records for the highest water levels ever seen in the Fort Myers and Naples area. All eyes are now on the storm as everyone waits for it to weaken and end its destruction for all.