New Weather Data Technology Notifies Public Safety Officials Ahead of Extreme Events

By Glen Denny, Baron Services, Inc.: 

Advance location alerting helps leaders know when to trigger emergency response plans.

Lately, on an increasingly frequent basis, weather events seem to dominate much of our news, with rising numbers of severe occurrences presenting fresh challenges for public safety officials dedicated to protecting lives and property. It doesn’t just appear that way, it’s an actual fact: Almost 80% of disasters faced by public safety and emergency management professionals today are weather-related. It’s not only dramatic, extreme storms that require advanced forecasting for efficient safety planning, it’s also the numerous, more common fog, rain, ice, snow, and wind events that often impact our daily lives.

A screenshot of Baron’s interface. Here we see the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey

In any community, these conditions can differ within neighborhoods, even street to street, and change minute to minute. For anyone involved in safety management—whether responsible for schools, hospitals, churches, companies, organizations, sports venues, pools, parks, or other public gathering sites—being able to monitor and stay ahead of rapidly changing weather at specific locations is a difficult, time-consuming job that can have serious life or death repercussions.

Accustomed to regional forecasting, public safety professionals have traditionally made the best decisions they can given the broad-based storm information they’ve received. But today, with severe weather events rising, they face a growing dilemma: What’s the best way to access customized, advance weather intelligence data specific to their area so they can enforce whatever timely and effective safety plans are necessary to protect their community and its assets?

Though emergency management professionals and public safety officials aren’t trained meteorologists, fortunately, thanks to modern weather data technology and improvements in the ease of access, they don’t have to be. A new system of data-driven, location-based alerts offers an innovative tool for safety management officials, delivering customized, active monitoring that triggers advanced emergency preparation plans addressing multiple weather hazards.

Web and mobile on-demand system alerts keep pace with changing weather conditions

America’s a big country, one that experiences nearly every weather event Mother Nature dishes out. Safety managers know that severe weather means different things to different regions across the U.S. and preventative plans must change accordingly. In Florida, emergency management professionals might seek weather alerts informing them when temperatures will fall below 40 degrees so they can implement plans to open homeless shelters or advise citrus owners to protect crops. In Arizona, public safety officials need to know when excessive temperatures might dictate additional safety measures to keep people cool, especially the elderly and very young.

Advanced mobile apps like Baron’s are essential to getting up-to-the-minute information on weather in your area.

Each region has a threshold for hot or cold, too much snow, too little or excessive rainfall. And although the big, headline-grabbing weather events like tornados, blizzards, hurricanes, and floods command attention, safety professionals require accurate weather intelligence affecting specific, localized areas where daily conditions have immediate impact on commuters and the public.

One provider of reliable, weather technology data is changing the way safety and emergency management professionals stay ahead of severe weather events. At Baron, a global leader in critical weather intelligence, scientists have teamed with seasoned meteorologists to develop a next generation tool, easily accessible to emergency safety managers and planners, advancing precision weather forecasting. Baron Threat Net’s web portal products offer public safety officials a comprehensive weather monitoring platform targeting street level views.

Threat Net’s high resolution, customizable mapping allows emergency managers to concentrate their attention on operational conditions impacting specific areas of concern, with user-friendly navigation and a pre-set feature allowing up to 20 site maps to be stored for future reference. How much rain has fallen, and how much is expected? Exclusive precipitation, accumulated precipitation and 24-hour accumulation forecasts keep users on top of possible flooding risks. Baron Threat Net’s Severe Threats allows simultaneous views of areas threatened by potentially damaging winds, flooding or hail. A Cloud to Ground Lightning feature shows real-time lightning strikes at street level. Using a combination of actual and forecasted products, the Road Weather/Conditions feature offers actual road condition alerts displaying a variety of concerns such as Patchy Ice, Flooded, Snow and Heavy Snow or just plain slippery road surfaces. Baron Threat Net’s complete tropical weather package tracks hurricanes and tropical storms, monitoring the latest maximum wind speeds, watches, warnings and storm surge conditions, making the information easily accessible.

A screenshot of Baron’s Rainfall Accumulation tool.

To keep safety professionals informed in advance, Threat Net delivers customizable, pinpointed local alerts making officials aware of locations and assets in the path of impending, potentially dangerous, weather. Users select a location, identify the risk and choose a notification method—on screen, by email, or via push notifications to a phone—while the system, which includes patented Baron Safety Alerts and standard National Weather Service watches and warnings, automatically monitors that location. A companion app lets users access real-time weather conditions from any location, a valuable feature for safety departments sometimes short on personnel resources.

Proprietary, customized weather alerts safety management professionals can depend on

Local and regional safety managers are familiar with their area environment and the kinds of weather events making them most vulnerable. Most have been on the job for some time, and may have grown somewhat skeptical about the accuracy of long and short-term weather forecasting. They shouldn’t be. Advances in computing power, speed and forecast algorithms have dramatically improved weather forecasting technology, and today accessing that critical information is easier than ever.

That’s where Baron’s Threat Net products are making the biggest difference for safety management professionals. While traditional weather services are okay, none deliver the kinds of proprietary, customized weather alerts available through Threat Net & Pinpoint Alerting products. The proprietary alerts they provide supply pre-set custom alerting of 80 different weather conditions.

“When I’m in the field I use a lot of tools to help me navigate around severe weather, and the most reliable one is Mobile Threat Net,” says Martin Lisius, a Severe Weather Expert from Arlington, TX.

Safety personnel can receive customized forewarning of changing conditions invaluable for getting them ahead of weather events, helping them determine timing and scope of emergency response plans. And quite simply, the more advance notice officials get before dangerous weather arrives—the more accurate, granular and detailed that information—the better their response planning will be.

An example of the highly localized forecasting tools implemented by Baron.

“Baron has a history of working with our partners to understand their needs and has developed customized alerts that pinpoint the exact timing and location of weather events that will impact our customers; many of these alerts go beyond the traditional weather warnings we are accustomed to receiving and focus on specific weather phenomena, such as hail and lightning,” says Bob Dreiswerd, Baron’s Chief Development Officer. “Baron also works with customers to develop alerts specific to their situation that focus on weather related events that directly impact their operations.”

Not your grandmother’s weather forecasts: incisive weather intelligence takes the ‘might’ out of forecasting

Baron’s suite of weather intelligence products offers safety officials user-friendly, data-informed alerts letting them know what’s actually coming, in many cases well before it arrives. The complete data set of customized tools can provide street-level road forecasts 24 hours in advance, deliver a tropical weather package tracking maximum wind speed, watches, warnings and storm surge, and even keep safety personnel informed during unpredictable emergency situations like hazmat spills or terrorism. With trains and trucks transporting hazardous materials through communities daily, Threat Net can help safety management professionals determine wind and rain conditions with potential to spread spills, smoke, gases or other toxic substances when and if spills occur.

Whether you’re a small-town mayor charged with knowing how much additional rainfall to expect in order to keep residents in the path of impending flooding safe, or an Emergency Management Coordinator like Rusty Chase of Isle of Wight County, VA, relying on Mobile Threat Net to make decisive plans based on its alerts, all safety management professionals need access to the best weather intelligence available today.  “We saw dangerous weather on Mobile Threat Net and were able to give the schools adequate time to shelter children in the hallways during a tornado,” Chase says. “Had we released the kids to go home prior to my alert we would have had them on the roads and probably had injuries and fatalities.”

Relying on critical weather intelligence and customized alerts like these gives safety officials the confidence they’re using the most effective tool available for making informed planning decisions to secure the safety of their community. A recent example of the utility of Baron’s weather intelligence tools came with the arrival of Hurricane Harvey on the gulf coast. Threat Net’s live monitoring of Hurricane Harvey allowed users to prepare for the storm before it made landfall. While the storm’s impact couldn’t have been avoided, Threat Net’s prediction helped many people better prepare for Harvey’s force. When advanced technology produces weather data products capable of delivering customized advanced warnings today’s safety management professionals can depend on, why wouldn’t they?

Glen Denny is President, Enterprise Solutions, for Baron Services, Inc.

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