Hurricane Irene’s looming threat on the weather forecast may compel you to stock up on bottled water and put up the shutters, but cities and businesses must also worry about dealing with flooded streets, emergency evacuations and power outages. Luckily, some have begun turning to an IBM supercomputer model that can help them decide on a practical response regarding anything from rainstorms to blizzards.
The “Deep Thunder” simulation not only delivers precise weather forecasts up to three days ahead of time for client cities or businesses, but also predicts possible storm damage on city or business infrastructure such as the power grid. Such information can help cities decide how many snow plows to put on the streets, or aid utility companies in sending out repair crews to fix downed power lines.
"We have to think about the business impact question," said Lloyd Treinish, chief scientist for IBM’s Deep Thunder. "If all we can do is the weather, we haven’t solved the problem yet even if there’s value in the improved weather prediction."
Deep Thunder has already begun simulating the possible impact of Hurricane Irene for clients in New York City, as well as IBM’s own labs located around New York State. It can provide anywhere from 24- to 84-hour forecasts depending on what the client needs and how much data is available.