Following its beta debut during the 2017 hurricane season, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) announced its Web-based Hurricane Evacuation (HURREVAC) system was used on a large scale during the 2018 hurricane season and is set to go fully operational for 2019 hurricane decision support.
According to S&T Program Manager Darren Wilson, the legacy HURREVAC system is now a Web-based platform that integrates forecast and planning data to provide emergency managers with decision support tools in the advance of and during tropical weather. The system has been redesigned to add new agile capabilities on an open architecture platform and includes new visualization tools, training and storm simulation resources, and can now run on mobile devices — including dramatically enhanced transportation modeling.
Web-based HURREVAC provides a one-stop shop for all the best information that emergency managers need to make decisions to keep the public safe,” said Carla Quinn, National Hurricane Program Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Quinn noted that the data is important to emergency planners because they have a wide variety of threats associated with a hurricane, including storm surge, wind, inland flooding and sea-related impacts. Web-based HURREVAC data comes from the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, and incorporates information from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) data sources.
Watch the Web-Based HURREVAC Video:
New Updated Transportation Analyses for 2019 Hurricane Decision Support
Editor’s Note: During Hurricane Harvey in 2017, state and local government officials had differing opinions on hurricane evacuation in the Houston area.
New for 2019, DHS S&T outreach indicated the agency transitioned HURREVAC to a new open-source evacuation transportation modeling capability in order to dramatically improve the efficiency and accuracy of roadway networks and population estimates in emergency management transportation analyses.
The upgrades include the nationwide road network (from 2009 to 2019) and U.S. Census data calculations from (2000 to 2010). In development over the next six months is updated evacuation clearance times in support of Hurricane Evacuation Studies for Alabama, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, said Wilson.
System Enables Faster Government Response, According to 2018 Users
At the start of the 2018 hurricane season, 5,184 emergency managers from 19 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico had registered for an account to access the new Web-based hurricane evacuation decision support system. In advance of Hurricane Florence, more than 1,000 users were collect information about the storm through the system. More than 800 users tracked and collected hurricane decision support information in advance of Hurricane Michael.
“Emergency managers from Florida to Maine utilized Web-based HURREVAC to analyze the potential impacts from Hurricane Florence related to storm surge, wind, and inland flooding. Of particular value was the system capability to visualize storm surge estimates out at the two to five day forecast limit,” according to Wilson.
The system was upgraded through a collaboration with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the National Hurricane Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL), and countless state and local emergency managers. DHS S&T and its development partner MIT-LL received a 2018 R&D 100 Award by R&D Magazine.
Get Coordinated Information to Government Leaders Quickly
DHS S&T shared feedback on the hurricane decision support capabilities from 2018 beta testing:
Being able to see all the layers at one time in Web-based HURREVAC means we don’t have to go to other websites to see the same information,” said Katie Webster, a meteorologist and natural hazards planner with North Carolina Emergency Management. “Now, we can see it all on one platform. It also allows us to take the web-based platform around the office to provide briefings for senior leadership or the Governor, and it’s all right there in one spot. We can show them all one graphic what it is that we’re talking about.”
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Learn more about hurricane decision support: