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UAS Missions Supporting Flood Forecasting Following Hurricane Delta Landfall

Article Provided By: Robert Moorhead (Director, NGI) and John Walker (Contract Support For USRTO). Photos Provided By: Robert Moorhead (Director, NGI)

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The NOAA OAR UAS Program, in cooperation with the National Weather Service River Forecast Centers (NWS RFCs) in the Southern Region and the Northern Gulf Institute (NGI; a NOAA Cooperative Institute), established a study several years ago to determine the cost and contributions of UAS-collected data toward improving forecasts and warnings of significant flood events. While the impacts of severe flooding are not isolated to this area alone, according to NOAA NCEI’s 2020 report, U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters, “The highest frequency of inland flood (i.e., non-tropical) events often occur in states adjacent to large rivers or the Gulf of Mexico, which is a warm source of moisture to fuel rainstorms”. The need for accurate, rapidly obtainable data in this region is all the more emphasized when this fact is combined with other known impacts from land-falling tropical cyclones each hurricane season. 

In October 2020, NGI added to the list of previous successful UAS deployments in support of this study, as the group was once again called into action by the regional NWS RFC to collect aerial flood image data after Hurricane Delta made landfall in Louisiana and passed through Mississippi. 

NGI Publishes Research on Use of UAS to Identify and Analyze Flood Impacts

ARTICLE PROVIDED BY JOHN WALKER [(3) UASPO]

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With funding provided by the NOAA UAS Program Office in OAR through the “SHOUT4Rivers” project, Dr. Robert Moorhead (Director of NOAA’s Northern Gulf Institute, NGI, and principal investigator) and his team have been working for the past couple of years to develop and test plans to deploy large UAS to collect aerial imagery of flood-impacted regions in response to needs expressed by multiple NWS River Forecast Centers (RFCs).  
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