Application of Remote Sensing and GIS for Hurricane, Tornados and Cyclone Hazard Mitigation
Application of Remote Sensing and GIS for Hurricane, Tornados and Cyclone Hazard Mitigation


Satellite imagery and aerial photography incorporated with geographic information systems (GIS), can give coastal resource managers and emergency officials a wealth of information for assessment, analysis and monitoring of natural disasters such as Hurricanes, Tornados and Cyclone damage from small to large regions around the globe.

Prior to a storm, remote sensed high resolution sensors such asGeoEye-1, WorldView-2, Worldview-1, QuickBird, IKONOS, and Spot-5data helps pinpoint where previous hazard events have occurred, where they are likely to occur in the future and the costs associated with historical events. After the storm, remote sensing can be used to determine the extent of landscape change and monitor the progress of recovery. Remote sensing allows a larger land mass to be studied in a shorter amount of time than is possible with traditional ground cover study methods.

Hurricane Katrina Hurricane Rita
Hurricane Katrina (2005) - NOAA Hurricane Rita (2005)
Cyclone Gonu F5 Tornado Damage
Cyclone Gonu - Oman (2007)
MODIS Satellite
IKONOS - Greensburg, Kansas
F5 Tornado Damage and Track

Storm Surges

Storm surge (storm tide) is the most dangerous aspect of a natural hazard. Storm surge flooding, high winds, and freshwater flooding are the main hazards that render an area unsafe during a disaster. To assess the vulnerability of an area to storm surges, the maximum envelope of water must be compared to the elevation of the area to predict whether the area will be flooded during a range of storm scenarios. The storm's angle and direction of attack will be critical for modeling different scenarios.

County planners, coastal managers, and local communities can better prepare for the next natural disaster by learning from past experiences. Satellite Imagery and GIS, can enable emergency management and community planners to better prepare for natural disaster impacts on their region. Estimates of the particular land cover classes that may be inundated by each category hurricane can enable planners to better assess their region's risk and vulnerability. With this type of information, planners are better able to prioritize and target mitigation and preparedness activities for their area.

Damage and Recovery Assessments

Remote Sensing gives state and government agencies the ability to view the damage from multiple vantage points. The spatial resolution of an image determines the ability to view individual features such as buildings and bridges. It also affects the ability to monitor and assess damage conditions, and depends on the nature of the hazard itself — for example, flooding, wind pressure, and storm surge.

Hurricane Katrina Damage Hurricane Katrina Damage Hurricane Katrina Damage

IKONOS - Pre and Post Hurricane Katrina - 2005

Satellite Photos Copyright © 2010 GeoEye. All Rights Reserved.

Resolution of approximately 10 meters or smaller are necessary to discern the presence and location of individual buildings, while high resolution imagery of one meter or less can distinguish damage conditions of individual buildings, such as damage to roofs caused by wind pressure. Widespread flooding can be detected and monitored using less-detailed moderate-resolution imagery.

Satellite Imagery with multispectral resolution from Satellite Sensors such as LandSat and ASTER can distinguish physical materials with different reflectance values in different portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, and so features of interest, such as construction materials, water, and vegetation, can be identified by unique characteristics. The use of multispectral remote sensing systems is therefore critical for the separation of constituent materials within an image and for the interpretation of images of damage for pre or post-disaster assessment.