Advanced Technology for Rapid Tornado Damage Assessment Following the "Super Tuesday" Tornado Outbreak of February 2008

A. McMillan, B.J. Adams, A. Reynolds, T. Brown, D. Liang and J.A. Womble

MCEER-08-SP01 | 04/02/2008 | 20 pages

Keywords: Reconnaissance reports.  Rapid damage assessments.  Multi-hazard damage detection.  Tornadoes.  Visualizing Impacts of Earthquakes with Satellites (VIEWS) system.  Ground surveys.  Identification.  Mapping.  Debris.  Reconstruction.  Repairs.  Data acquisition.  Rebuilding.

Abstract: This field campaign, undertaken in the aftermath of the 2008 ‘Super Tuesday’ tornadoes, presented the team with a unique opportunity to collect geographically located perishable damage data on a per-building level throughout a variety of tornado strengths and environments. This exploration marks the first tornado event where the VIEWS (Visualizing Impacts of Earthquakes with Satellites) system has been deployed to collect detailed ground survey data for identification and mapping of damage in a wide-ranging area. The ground-based deployment shows in detail the type of buildings which populate certain areas, the surrounding vegetation, the building materials that survive and other crucial aspects. In some neighborhoods, debris removal, and even rebuilding, had started to occur very soon after the tornado and prior to the arrival of ground-survey teams; it is therefore essential to collect information rapidly to assess the level of damage before this occurs. These quick response deployments occurred within one month of the event. It is envisioned that the data collected will form part of a larger research thrust into tornado damage assessment, wind characterization and improving community resilience.