Case Study

Unisys Radar Mosaics Track Superstorm Sandy

Unisys Weather: Providing critical weather data and information to NOAA and other users before, during, and after Hurricane Sandy.

Approximately two weeks prior to the devastation brought to the Northeastern US by Hurricane Sandy, meteorologists both at the Federal Government and private enterprise were watching simulations of computer weather models closely. A storm would develop over the Caribbean, turn north and merge with a winter front and eventually make its way onshore somewhere on the northeast US coastline. Meanwhile at the Unisys Weather data center in Malvern, PA, data from these models would be processed and delivered to various commercial customers and Internet users worldwide. Meteorologists knew that this could be a once in a lifetime event.

Unisys Weather provides mission critical weather data to the National Weather Service (NWS), Federal Aviation Administration, airlines, and energy companies who all were significantly impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Unisys Weather data center in the western Philadelphia suburbs was near the storms direct path threatening critical Unisys infrastructure and service at the time customers depended on it most. Around the clock emergency staffing, system of redundant capability and a key focus on mission delivery and reliability ensured Unisys never faltered during this historical event. Unisys Weather operations sets 99.9% data delivery availability as the acceptable performance level, which is the highest service level in the commercial weather industry. Unisys Weather began preparing for this event well in advance ensuring critical systems were reviewed, power backups checked, and emergency plans reviewed. On the night of October 29, the Unisys services delivering weather radar information to the NWS National Centers proved critical for forecasters to view the exact time, location, and intensity of post Hurricane Sandy as she rolled onshore just south of Atlantic City, NJ.

Unisys maintained its stellar reputation as a reliable provider of mission critical weather data throughout the strongest storm ever to make landfall in the Northeast US. Days in advance of Sandy, Unisys provided data was used by the airlines and energy community to prepare, respond and recover from Sandy—advanced warning by the National Weather Service and the reliable transmission of data from the Unisys Weather Center ensured airlines and energy companies knew the severity of the storm and were able to evacuate aircraft out of harm’s way, avoid stranding passengers for days in airport terminals, and reposition aircraft to ensure flights were back in the air as soon as conditions were safe. Energy companies were able to pre-positioned crews from around the country to ensure rapid response to the over 3M electric outages caused by Sandy and they also prepared for impacts to power generated wind turbines and hydro-power plants.

Unisys Weather is now exploring how the use of big data analytics that fuses weather data with business rules can generate more refined decision knowledge to weather sensitive industries like the aviation and energy communities to enable faster and more accurate decisions. The government also depends on Unisys reliability and a suite of Unisys proprietary radar products to ensure the most accurate warnings were issues by the National Weather Service. Unisys' patented weather radar mosaics were being sent to several NWS National Centers that were keeping a close eye on this system: the National Hurricane Center in Miami and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center in College Park, MD. At these sites as well as two others (Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City and Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma), Unisys operates and maintains specialized systems responsible for ingest, processing, and distribution of weather radar mosaics and select single site radar products used by Government forecasters. Using terrestrial communications and our own satellite communication service with an onsite uplink for very high reliability as a key part of our architecture, Unisys has been providing services to deliver weather information since 1996.

Sandy Radar Composite