High-tech tool predicts where severe weather will hit

As we start the spring storm season, there is a high-tech tool to pinpoint neighborhoods at risk for severe weather trouble.

It can help communities both prepare and respond to emergency weather situations.


When a slew of tornadoes broke out in southern states last week, the people from Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont knew right where the trouble spots were, using a mapping system called RAPT -- Resilience Analysis and Planning Tool.

"RAPT was able to show the National Weather Service outline of the tornado warnings, and then we could turn on other points of interest in our area. So, hospitals, nursing homes, maybe mobile home parks, that might be in the path of those tornadoes so we know where we need to make stage relief efforts. If those things touchdown and the worst comes to pass," said Argonne infrastructure analyst Carmella Burdi.

Burdi believes the tech could save lives, as RAPT layers real time weather radar with community data for local governments and FEMA to use. They can pinpoint potential problems, such as who needs help when floodwaters rage.

"And then when we can say, wait a second, we know that there is a significant number of our population in this area that doesn't have access to a car, and so they might not be able to evacuate if this rainfall flooding could occur," Burdi said.

Want to know the risk for severe weather in your neighborhood? Anyone can explore RAPT for free at fema.gov/rapt.