DHS Updates Hurricane Evaluation System for 2019 Season
Thursday, April 18, 2019 | Comments

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate (S&T) hurricane evaluation system, dubbed HURREVAC, is set to go fully operational for the 2019 hurricane season after being used during the 2018 hurricane season.

The web-based platform integrates forecast and planning data to provide emergency managers with decision support tools for use in advance of and during tropical weather, said S&T Program Manager Darren Wilson.

Collaborating with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the National Hurricane Center, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL), and state and local emergency managers, DHS S&T worked to redesign the legacy HURREVAC system and add new capabilities implemented on an agile, open architecture platform with new innovative visualization tools, embedded training and storm simulation resources, as well as the capability to be run on mobile devices.

“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. “The data comes from the National Hurricane Center, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, as well as some National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) sources. This 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 other sea-related threats that NOAA, USGS and other weather prediction centers can provide.”

At the start of the 2018 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 HURREVAC. When Hurricane Florence formed in the Atlantic Ocean and was heading toward the United States, more than 1,000 users implemented the system to collect information about the storm.

“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 in one graphic what it is that we’re talking about.”

Hurricane Michael led to similar usage, where more than 800 users tracked and collected information about the storm to increase situational awareness and maximize preparedness.

DHS S&T continues to enhance the capabilities of the system with new functionality and innovative features, and in 2019, transitioned to a new open-source evacuation transportation modeling capability. This new capability includes upgrades to the nationwide road network (from 2009 to 2019) and U.S. Census data calculations from (2000 to 2010). Both upgrades dramatically improve the efficiency and accuracy of roadway networks and population estimates in emergency management transportation analyses. This new capability will be used during the next six months to create updated evacuation clearance times in support of hurricane evacuation studies for Alabama, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia, said Wilson.

Wilson expects the updated system will fully replace the legacy system and be operationally implemented as the nation’s new hurricane evacuation planning and decision support system in advance of the 2019 hurricane season.

More information and access to the system are here.

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