As Hurricane Ida thrashed Louisiana Sunday, more than two dozen storm-proof cameras were in place to document the historic landfall. The equipment was part of the Hurricane Landfall Project, a crowd-sourced initiative aimed at helping scientists better understand these devastating storms.
“We captured a lot of data meteorologically, and visually that will help people understand not only what happened, but how it happened,” said Mark Sudduth, who started the project 16 years ago during Hurricane Katrina.
As Ida strengthened in the Gulf of Mexico, Sudduth and his team travelled to Louisiana and placed cameras east and west of the forecast track. Some of the cameras were able to stream video live, while others store what they record on memory cards.
“We do lose the cameras from time to time, but that’s part of it, that's what they’re there for,” said Sudduth. “We are not expendable, the camera systems, the weather equipment are.”
So far from Hurricane Ida, Sudduth has been able to review video from cameras that were placed in La Place, Louisiana and Waveland, Mississippi.
“The visual data is so important, especially that storm surge, did it come up as high as forecast? And actually verifying that with data through the video is extremely helpful to the National Hurricane Center.”
As Ida made landfall, Sudduth and his team made it to Raceland, where they saw the eye with their own eyes and tried to launch a weather balloon.
“Because it was called a dirty eye at that point, a little bit of rain, stronger wind, we weren’t successful,” he said. “But the day will come when we launch this payload in the eye up to the stratosphere, collecting data from the surface of the earth to the edge of space and also providing a visual that no one has ever seen before- looking down from the stratosphere into the eye of the hurricane, it’s going to happen someday.”
The Hurricane Landfall Project donates its data to the National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, universities, and other experts.
“It might help people who are new to an area understand when they’re told what to do during a hurricane warning,” said Sudduth. “This can show them and motivate them first to save their life and to mitigate property damage.”
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