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Big Data to Assume a Major Role in 2014 Hurricane Season

August 20th, 2014 by - 3,063 views

Part of what makes Big Data such a unique technological development is its adaptability to a number of different industries, transitioning between fashion analytics and cancer statistics without missing a beat. Although some companies are making use of Big Data to compile more accurate marketing statistics, others are using the cloud computing technology to predict what major weather events are on the horizon in any given area.

How big data can tell you when there's a storm afoot.

How Big Data can tell you when there’s a storm afoot.

Forbes contributor Lisa Wirthman wrote a recent article on how Big Data will assume an important role in this year’s impending hurricane season. In it, she explained how Big Data could be used to help those preparing for such storm thanks to analytics that could save their homes this season.

How does Big Data help predict the weather?
Ever since humans began studying thousands of weather patterns in an effort to better predict what was coming their way, analysis has been at the heart of efficiency when it comes to weather predictions. Technology has done a great deal to help forecasters predict anything from the smallest rainstorm to a monumental tornado, with varying degrees of accuracy.

The growth of Big Data meant that even more data could be collected, although the industry continued to focus mainly on aerial technology to predict developments of interest to readers and viewers. In recent years, as Wirthman explained, “hurricane hunters” have been able to get closer than ever to predicting the specifics of a particular storm.

“Although manned Hurricane Hunters can fly straight into the core of a storm, they typically don’t fly below 5,000 feet,” the source explained. “The Hunters can drop small cylinders into this low-level danger zone to gather data about temperature, humidity and pressure, but they only stay in the air for a few minutes before hitting the sea below.”

In the meantime, U.S. companies have continued to develop and experiment with drone technology. In fact, the technology will be deployed into the weather sector in a practical way this coming season thanks to a new development by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called the “Coyote” drone.

Big Data’s role in helping this hurricane season
Unlike other drones, which are notorious for providing data in the form of individual photographic snapshots, the Coyote will be able to provide a maximum of 2 hours of data in a way that’s more similar to a movie than a static image. The product is the result of over $1 million invested in hurricane research following Superstorm Sandy’s massive wreckage during the summer of 2012. With the Coyote capable of recording steady data streams anywhere from 200 to 5,000 feet in the air, developers seem confident it will make a big difference in future weather studies.

Once a major weather event is over, Big Data can also provide the analytics with which to produce a visualization that enables readers and scientists to assess the magnitude and resulting damage done by each storm. According to Insurance & Technology contributor David Carr, this approach was used when Hurricane Arthur swept across the Atlantic coast this summer and is a trend that’s likely to continue throughout the season.

By adopting cloud hosting as a way of analyzing weather-related data, forecasters stand to gain more information that is many times more accurate than what was produced by previous systems. If Wirthman’s report is any indication, the development of the “Coyote” could mean taking a step closer to improving the weather industry’s reputation for accuracy and give the everyday citizen more time to prepare for major natural events before their homes and belongings are threatened or damaged.

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