For those living in New Orleans, we have a relatively good thing to share, as researchers at university supercomputing centers in Texas and Louisiana are working on Big Data-driven supercomputers that will quickly map mapped the weather data changes and how the storm surge will invade coastal regions and neighborhoods. These researchers are working to inform emergency planners about what will happen once the hurricane sends water into canals and levies.
Rice University is doing a very similar thing with their Risk Calculator that also uses big data analysis of past events and current civic structures combined with knowledge about the hurricane. Disasters themselves, especially upcoming and foreseeable ones such as hurricanes and oncoming heavy weather, opens up both historical data about past events as well as ever-shifting data from the evolving situation in a way that can be used to build a preparation model.
What prompted researchers is the Katrina that struck New Orleans back in 2005. When Katrina landed, we still had the capability to model the storm surge, but as low as 300,000 “nodes” and it took six hours to run a simulation. And today, researchers are able to do simulations with some 1.5 million nodes can be completed in 1.5 hours, which is incredible. These supercomputers are run at Louisiana State University’s Center for Computation and Technology, under Louisiana Sea Grant Program. Data produced by these supercomputers is used by the researchers and incorporated into geographic information systems.
“About the time of Katrina, the computer models were much coarser and had minimum resolutions of only 100-200 meters,” said Casey Dietrich, a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences at University of Texas in Austin. “Researchers can look down at neighborhood scale and say on this street along the levy we’re going to have water this high, and plan accordingly. I think we have a very strong understanding of how hurricane wave storm develop and how they can threaten a coastal environment,” Dietrich added.
Big Data is a crucial tool for understanding the storm, and design ways to cope with it. Tropical storm Isaac, which left the Caribbean nation, and is expected to reach Louisiana anytime, can even turn into a full-blown category one hurricane, as predicted by researchers. But we believe that the residents of New Orleans and neighboring cities will now be able to survive this, as they are now more prepared because of what happened when hurricane Katrina hit 7 years ago. Still, we suggest using some helpful apps that will help you survive this. Find out more on Issac survival apps here.