Houston announces website for hurricane season
Rice University researchers have developed a website for Harris County residents to receive up-to-the-minute updates for hurricane safety in their neighborhood.
Called the Storm Risk Calculator, the website gathers data from the National Weather Service on wind, storm surge and rainfall forecasts for specific risk assessments for individual homes. The site also uses information from the Harris County Tax Appraisal Districts' residential housing inventory to determine the wind risk to residents' homes. The site also can calculate power outage risks and flooding. It was developed by Robert Stein, Leonardo Dueñas-Osorio and Devika Subramanian, all of Rice University, with help from Birnur Guven, researchers, undergraduate students and LJA Engineering of Houston.
"Building predictive models of risks at the neighborhood level was a daunting engineering undertaking," Dueñas-Osorio said in a press release. "We needed to integrate a vast amount of information on home structures, terrains, hydrology and hydraulics, power transmission and distribution systems, wind fields, surge and precipitation. This required advanced probabilistic and computational techniques, and we also had to reach out to the public to understand how to effectively communicate these risks. Of course, these models reflect our reasonable estimates based on the data we have compiled to date, but we believe they provide useful information for the public. This was truly an interdisciplinary collaboration."
The Storm Risk Calculator was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, Rice University's Faculty Initiative Fund and the Department of Homeland Security through the Mayor's Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
The calculator's Web address is www.risk.rtsnets.com. To use the calculator, enter the address on the website.
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