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Volume 32, Issue 2

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Tuesday, 16 April 2019 14:54

Historical Weather Condition Data Offers an Information Goldmine for Campus and School Planning

Archived data great for training and planning

By GLEN DENNY, Baron Services, Inc.

Historical weather conditions can be used for a variety of purposes, including simulation exercises for staff training; proactive emergency weather planning; and proving (or disproving) hazardous conditions for insurance claims. Baron Historical Weather Data, an optional collection of archived weather data for Baron Threat Net, lets users extract and view weather data from up to 8 years of archived radar, hail and tornado detection, and flooding data. Depending upon the user’s needs, the weather data can be configured with access to a window of either 30 days or 365 days of historical access. Other available options for historical data have disadvantages, including difficulty in collecting the data, inability to display data or point query a static image, and issues with using the data to make a meteorological analysis.

Using data for simulation exercises for staff training

Historical weather data is a great tool to use for conducting realistic severe weather simulations during drills and training exercises. For example, using historical lightning information may assist in training school personnel on what conditions look like when it is time to enact their lightning safety plan.

Reenactments of severe weather and lightning events are beneficial for school staff to understand how and when actions should have been taken and what to do the next time a similar weather event happens. It takes time to move people to safety at sporting events and stadiums. Examining historical events helps decision makers formulate better plans for safer execution in live weather events.

Post-event analysis for training and better decision making is key to keeping people safe. A stadium filled with fans for a major sporting event with severe weather and lightning can be extremely deadly. Running a post-event exercise with school staff can be extremely beneficial to building plans that keep everyone safe for future events.

Historical data key to proactive emergency planning

School personnel can use historical data as part of advance proactive planning that would allow personnel to take precautionary measures. For example, if an event in the past year caused an issue, like flooding of an athletic field or facility, officials can look back to that day in the archive at the Baron Threat Net total accumulation product, and then compare that forecast precipitation accumulation from the Baron weather model to see if the upcoming weather is of comparable scale to the event that caused the issue. Similarly, users could look at historical road condition data and compare it to the road conditions forecast.

The data can also be used for making the difficult call to cancel school. The forecast road weather lets officials look at problem areas 24 hours before the weather happens. The historical road weather helps school and transportation officials examine problem areas after the event and make contingency plans based on forecast and actual conditions.

Insurance claims process improved with use of historical data

Should a weather-related accident occur, viewing the historical conditions can be useful in supporting accurate claim validation for insurance and funding purposes. In addition, if an insurance claim needs to be made for damage to school property, school personnel can use the lightning, hail path, damaging wind path, or critical weather indicators to see precisely where and when the damage was likely to have occurred.

Similarly, if a claim is made against a school system due to a person falling on an icy sidewalk on school property, temperature from the Baron current conditions product and road condition data may be of assistance in verifying the claim.

Underneath the hood

public safety historical weather dataThe optional Baron Historical Weather Data addition to the standard Baron Threat Net subscription includes a wide variety of data products, including high-resolution radar, standard radar, infrared satellite, damaging wind, road conditions, and hail path, as well as 24-hour rainfall accumulation, current weather, and current threats.

Offering up to 8 years of data, users can select a specific product and review up to 72 hours of data at one time, or review a specific time for a specific date. Information is available for any given area in the U.S., and historical products can be layered, for example, hail swath and radar data. Packages are available in 7-day, 30-day, or 1-year increments.

Other available options for historical weather data are lacking

There are several ways school and campus safety officials can gain access to historical data, but many have disadvantages, including difficulty in collecting the data, inability to display the data, and the inability to point query a static image. Also, officials may not have the knowledge needed to use the data for making a meteorological analysis. In some cases, including road conditions, there is no available archived data source.

For instance, radar data may be obtained from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), but the process is not straightforward, making it time consuming. Users may have radar data, but lack the knowledge base to be able to interpret it. By contrast, with Baron Threat Net Historical Data, radar imagery can be displayed, with critical weather indicators overlaid, taking the guesswork out of the equation.

There is no straightforward path to obtaining historical weather conditions for specific school districts. The local office of the National Weather Service may be of some help but their sources are limited. By contrast, Baron historical data brings together many sources of weather and lightning data for post-event analysis and validation. Baron Threat Net is the only online tool in the public safety space with a collection of live observations, forecast tools, and historical data access.