Wednesday, March 2, 2016   |   Critical Weather, Public Safety

Emergency Management and Response during Severe Weather

by Amy Gardner Hadachek, AMS and NWA-certified meteorologist


My mind was racing faster than the approaching clouds.

“Let’s all get out of here now!” I said to my friend and others around us as we leaped off the wood bleachers, descending the stadium seating. Tumultuous thunder suddenly shook the stands, as torrents of rain sent visitors fleeing the stands, with many huddling for cover underneath the bleachers.

This experience produced the menacing question: how can Emergency Managers ensure the safety of the public during severe weather events?


Weather Intelligence in a Web Browser

In 2015, Baron introduced Baron Threat Net, a severe weather tool for web browsers, designed to help Emergency Managers make split-second critical weather decisions for public safety.

“Here’s what I look at: the path and speed of the storm, the severity, and also the possibility of hail,” said a Kansas Emergency Manager as we maneuvered around the Threat Net site. “I just want something really quick and dirty, and this does a lot of things. You get everything in one bundle; the projection of a storm coming, and even a seven-day forecast.”

As dramatic weather changes affect numerous decisions involving schools, facilities, outdoor events and more, manual storm tracking and automated Baron Storm Vectors help Emergency Managers see where the storm is heading, and prepare communities for its approach. Five color codes allow the user to instantly see if the threat corresponds to high wind, hail or potential tornadoes.

Using the Severe Threats product combines the spot-on capability to track hail, wind, and tornadoes through automated analysis of multiple levels of velocity (wind) and precipitation. Additionally, Critical Weather Indicators automatically provide an immediately recognizable indication of 100 mph of rotation corresponding to a strong velocity couplet–giving users the ability to, as meteorologists and storm chasers put it, “see” the mesocyclone when they are triggered.

Baron Threat Net also enables storm chasers to go into the field using 3G or 4G-compatible tablet, enabling them to monitor threats while staying safe to accomplish the key mission. As one forecaster said, “it’s like having all the tools that we can access, packed into one web app.”

The application of data streamlined for rapid identification allows Emergency Managers to gain actionable information, helping them identify a threat, prepare for it, analyze it in real-time, and efficiently respond to its effects.