FAU Technology Makes ‘Weathering the Storm’ More Precise

Wednesday, Apr 01, 2020
Researchers have installed 92 automated weather monitoring stations in seven counties in Florida, including Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties; one county in Georgia; 12 counties in South Carolina; and in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Atlantic Basin hurricane season officially kicked off this month with 13 to 19 named storms predicted. Hurricanes Joaquin and Matthew, in 2015 and 2016 respectively, are widely regarded as “near misses.” Yet, both hurricanes resulted in significant inland flooding. In the last several decades, more than half of the deaths associated with tropical cyclones in the United States were due to inland flooding. Unfortunately, current forecasting capabilities are limited – and failure to predict significant flooding is of great concern. So is continuously overstating forecasts, which people may grow to ignore.

Researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering (I-SENSE) and FAU’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, in collaboration with Coastal Carolina University’s Burroughs and Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, are developing a warning system for more accurate and timely detection and forecasting of inland and coastal floods, under a variety of precipitation regimes. The technology will enable local and state governments to more effectively plan and respond to tropical storms.

“Our system is based on a new family of micro-drifters,” said Jason O. Hallstrom, Ph.D., principal investigator, director of I-SENSE and a professor in FAU’s Department of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science. “We deploy these drifters in groups to measure surface water dynamics before, during, and after tropical storms, with the goal of providing rapid guidance for use by local and state governments and decision-makers. Data collected from the micro-drifters drives numerical simulations developed by our partners at Coastal Carolina University.”