Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘smarter weather’ Category

Sandy

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Hurricane Sandy is rapidly approaching the Atlantic coast of the U.S.. As of 8 a.m., the huge storm was producing sustained winds of 85 miles per hour after turning north northwest toward the coastline of New Jersey, according to the National Hurricane Center. The center of the storm is now moving at 20 m.p.h., a significant speedup from earlier in the morning.

If it’s Monday, it must be time for a Hurricane.

And I’m not referring to the cocktail emanating from Pat O’Brien’s in New Orleans.

Hurricane Sandy is drifting up the Atlantic coast and is expected to make landfall later this afternoon, probably somewhere in New Jersey.

But as of 8:52 CST this morning, she’s already having an impact well in to New York City. I’ve already seen Twitpics of Battery Park City starting to surrender to the surge, which is truly frightening considering how much of the storm is still yet to come.

As an FYI, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have eliminated their paywalls and are making their content free, if you’re looking for up-to-the-minute updates on the storm.

YouTube is also streaming The Weather Channel (where NBC’s Al Roker was just seen trying to stay vertical at Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey).

I spoke with a good friend of mine who lives on the edge of Cobble Hill (in Brooklyn), and he indicated the water had not yet lapped over the piers there, but that it was likely only a matter of time.  Forecasters are expecting a 6-to-11 surge when high tide strikes around 8 tonight.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo just held a press conference and announced the closing of both the Holland and Brooklyn Battery tunnels at 2 P.M. EST.

If you’re interested in seeing more detaila about the storm, Google’s offering up its “Crisis Map” here, and a more specific look at NYC here.

On Twitter, the National Hurricane Center is offering facts and tips at @NHC_Atlantic, and the Weather Channel can be followed at @weatherchannel.

I was living in NYC in 1985 during Hurricane Gloria, and that storm paled by comparison.  So, please, be safe out there, stay away from the ocean, stay inside, and ride this sucker out as safely as you can!

UPDATE: I just built this Turbo Sandy Twitter list, with a list of followees from a variety of media and government sources, including the Weather Channel, NASA, FEMA, and a variety of others.

Written by turbotodd

October 29, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Rio de Janeiro’s “Mission Control”

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I’ve been extremely blessed to have traveled to many wonderful cities around the world during my tenure with IBM.

If you forced me to choose a favorite…well, it wouldn’t be an easy decision.  Far from it.

But near the top of the list would have to be a city that left me absolutely breathless, literally and figuratively, and that’s the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Forget the wonderful caiprinhas cocktails and the breathtaking views — I remember once, on my first visit in 1999, I had to do a presentation in the IBM building there, and they had to close the drapes, the view of the Christ statue in the background so incredibly stunning that I couldn’t focus!

But it’s the people that make the place.  And the people of Rio are very special.

And if it’s the people who make the place, it’s also the people who make it run.

And making it run they are, the people of Rio de Janeiro, with a little from our team at IBM.

The New York Times takes an in-depth look this weekend at how Rio’s becoming one of IBM’s hallmark “smarter cities,” as they prepare to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

And fellow IBM blogger and buddy of mine Steve Hamm goes even deeper, explaining how the torrential rains in Rio during April 2010 that killed more than 70 residents made mayor Eduardo Paes vow that such horror would not occur on his watch again.

This story provides an excellent case study as to the type of smarter building, city, and infrastructure management that we’ll be hearing discussed at this week’s IBM Pulse 2012 conference in Las Vegas!

Check out the video below to learn more about Rio’s smarter city operation.

When It Rains, It Pours

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Considering that the city of Austin and much of Texas have not gotten very much rain this year, it’s somewhat ironic that IBM and the University of Texas at Austin are announcing today applied advanced analytics solutions for river systems that can help with flood prevention and preparedness.

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, but traditionally flood prediction methods are focused only on the main stems of the largest rivers — overlooking extensive tributary networks where flooding actually starts, and where flash floods threaten lives and property.

IBM researchers and researchers from UT Austin are using these analytics to predict the Guadalupe River’s behavior more than 100 times the normal speed.

IBM’s new flood prediction technology can simulate tens of thousands of river branches at a time, and could scale further to predict the behavior of millions of branches simultaneously.

By coupling analytics software with advanced weather simulation models, such as IBM’s Deep Thunder, municipalities and disaster response teams could make emergency plans and pinpoint potential flood areas on a river.

As a testing ground, the team is presently applying the model to predict the entire 230 mile-long Guadalupe River and over 9,000 miles of tributaries in Texas.  In a single hour the system can currently generate up to 100 hours of river behavior!

“Combining IBM’s complex system modeling with our research into river physics, we’ve developed new ways to look at an old problem,” said Ben Hodges, Associate Professor at UT Austin Center for Research in Water Resources. “Unlike previous methods, the IBM approach scales-up for massive networks and has the potential to simulate millions of river miles at once. With the use of river sensors integrated into web-based information systems, we can take this model even further.”

Speed on this scale is a significant advantage for smaller scale river problems, such as urban and suburban flash flooding caused by severe thunderstorms.

Within the emergency response network in Austin, Texas, professors from University of Texas at Austin are linking the river model directly to NEXRAD radar precipitation to better predict flood risk on a creek-by-creek basis.

In addition to flood prediction, a similar system could be used for irrigation management, helping to create equitable irrigation plans and ensure compliance with habitat conservation efforts.

The models could allow managers to evaluate multiple “what if” scenarios to create better plans for handling both droughts and water surplus.

The project is currently being run on IBM’s Power 7 systems, which accelerate the simulation and prediction significantly, allowing for additional disaster prevention and emergency response preparation.

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