The New Year is here and we start fresh with a set of ideas and projects that we plan to tackle during the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. Many of these projects will be in development over the coming weeks and months and some will have to wait until there is a chance for a landfall somewhere along the U.S. coastline.
I have outlined the top three major projects for 2013, beginning with #3 today. I will post #2 on Sunday and #1 on Monday. As always, our main objective will be to inform the public to the best of our ability about the hazards from tropical cyclones. As a team, we have a vast amount of experience – especially when it comes to impact and what to expect. So without any more lead up, let’s get on with the list!
#3: Develop new remote cams for easier deployment during landfalls
In 2005, we developed our innovative remotely operated camera systems that would stream and record live video during even the worst of hurricane conditions. The “Storm Case Cams” as we called them, were meant to be placed where we had no business being. A simple bullet cam, connected to the Storm Case by a 60 foot cable, would be mounted via an inexpensive L-bracket to anything vertical but, most importantly, strong. After a tough first deployment during Katrina in Mississippi where we lost or otherwise had issues with the units, we quickly triumphed over any hurdles and by the time we got to Wilma in October of that year, we had a successful deployment in Collier county, Florida. We proved that using self-contained camera, laptop and battery systems to stream live video and record it locally would be a 100% safe and effective way to get closer to a hurricane’s effects than we could as mere mortals.
By 2008 when Ike hit Galveston, Texas, we had refined the system to the best of our abilities at the time and again streamed live and captured incredible video of Ike’s storm surge without us having to be there – keeping Mike Watkins and me safe.
In 2012, I set up one Storm Case Cam in Long Branch, NJ for Sandy. It streamed live video from an incredible point of view for about eight hours. Then the storm surge and large breaking waves moved in to the location where I had set up the unit along the boardwalk and swiftly ripped the case out of the steel bike rack that I had attached it to. The resulting battering that the laptop and other components took rendered the unit useless for future deployments. It was that event that led me to begin working on a smaller, easier system that did not rely on the 75 pound AGM battery that we were using up until then.
While I cannot go in to details of what we will be using for 2013, I will say that we have solved the problem. What once took a Storm Case the size of a small foot locker can now be fit inside one the size of a briefcase. Thanks to a private investment from a HurricaneTrack supporter, we now have a new version of the Storm Case Cam which we will be testing often during the next few months. Once we head out on a field mission, I will post pics of the new units. Much of the technology is off-the-shelf stuff but the assembly of everything for this purpose – the purpose of getting in to the teeth of a hurricane virtually – is what makes it unique and innovative. We will now be able to set out the cams and mount them almost anywhere, high up off the ground, keeping them safe from surge while allowing them to stream stunning live video from a point of view that would likely be lethal to a human being.
Below is a sample video from our Ike deployment of the Storm Case Cam in Bermuda Beach, TX in 2008:
Tomorrow: Top project #2 for 2013: Continued development of our iPhone app and the introduction of HurricaneTrack for Android.