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Understanding Hurricanes—It Takes One to Know One

Release Date: June 6, 2017

S&T’s network of researchers have created a hurricane to help improve our understanding of how they work. While this storm is hypothetical, it is helping leaders at the federal, state and local level to better anticipate inland flooding, storm surge and wind speeds in future hurricanes.

William N. Bryan
Under Secretary (Acting) for
Science and Technology
William Bryan

It is also helping the network of experts from S&T’s Centers of Excellence, other government agencies and leaders in response that have come together to deliver advanced technology solutions to accurately track, image and predict the impact of storms, and to research critical success factors for effective risk management and recovery planning.

The Coastal Resilience Center (CRC) at the University of North Carolina (UNC), Chapel Hill—which is funded through the S&T Office of University Programs—is collaborating with the University of Rhode Island (URI) Graduate School of Oceanography where URI Professor Isaac Ginis and his team have developed Hurricane Rhody from three historical hurricanes. 

Hurricane Rhody is the basis for a modeling and impact analysis training program, which leverages data from past storms and applies precision 3-D visualizations. URI’s technology enables emergency managers to visualize floods within an accuracy level of 20 meters, which not only shows the storm size, but what the impact will be on key infrastructure like homes, bridges and buildings.

This hypothetical, high-impact storm scenario is part of S&T’s recently transitioned HURREVAC-extended (HV-X) storm tracking and decision support computer program, which is used by state and local emergency managers, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

By using high-resolution, 3-D renditions in short time, authorities have enhanced capabilities to see how evacuations and critical operating systems, such as food supplies, utilities and transportation will be impacted.

Emergency managers will use Rhody at FEMA’s Region 1 trainings, where URI partners will share feedback with COE colleagues at UNC and Old Dominion University (ODU) to help inform additional research on pre-disaster and post-disaster recovery planning.

To truly be successful at research and development, it takes a network of experts. And at S&T, I am proud that we have convened some of the best minds from Centers of Excellence, government agencies and the front lines of response to create tools that can make a difference in our communities.

As hurricane season has begun, we are reminded that communities nationwide need the ability to quickly adapt when disruptions occur and the resilience to return stronger than before. We’ll continue to address this topic in June to discuss how we’re helping communities build resilience before and after storms.

Last Updated: 07/14/2022
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