Government leaders of all levels in states along the Gulf of Mexico and Mid-Atlantic are facing a new reality: the growing likelihood they will be hit by a Category 4 hurricane or stronger.

Over the past two storm seasons, four Category 4 hurricanes of over 130 mph—Harvey, Irma, Maria and Michael—plowed through the U.S. coast leaving behind a path of destruction and putting millions of lives at risk. Hurricane Harvey alone caused upwards of $125 billion in damage, making it the second-most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland since 1900. The frequency of these catastrophic hurricanes is the most recorded in the past 150 years. According to a landmark report just released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we can only expect more intense, erratic weather.

Not limited to hurricanes alone, the world has experienced a record-breaking number of storms, forest fires, droughts, heat waves, and floods that have resulted in an increase of power outages and displacement and loss of lives over this past decade. The IPCC published the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in which their experts concluded that a precise climate change of 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 11 to 20 years will have a significant impact on future weather patterns and intensities.

Experts predict the number of tropical cyclones that reach Category 4 and 5 levels will likely increase due to warming over the 21st century, caused partially by humans. Warmer weather will also cause sea levels to rise, causing an increase in tropical cyclone rainfall, resulting in higher storm surges. Although the IPCC report advises on plans to stabilize global warming at 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, by 2100 we can expect an average of five to eight major hurricanes a year accordingly to a study by Science.

In addition to more hurricanes, research conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests that hurricanes are now crawling across the planet at a slower pace than decades prior, dragging out and amplifying their devastation. This has resulted in less predictable hurricane patterns. For example, Hurricane Florence moved slow and parked on the coastline, giving locals the chance to evacuate and officials a glimpse into inevitable flooding. Conversely, Hurricane Michael had dramatic overnight changes, besieged the coast and tore through inland states within a matter of days, leaving some unprepared local communities devastated by the speed and ferocity at which it hit.

As weather patterns grow more severe, many organizations in both private and government sectors are challenged to go beyond tracking only weather data. Organizations must be able to harness a host of available information, a lot of which comes in the form of data streams that monitor everything from street signals and traffic cameras to flood levels and IoT embedded sensors on fixed assets. This data can in turn be used to protect businesses, fleets, cities, and most importantly, people, as weather changes pose more serious threats to our daily lives.

Tools like Live Earth are beginning to help leaders in state and local governments, businesses and first responders impacted by major storms like Hurricane Michael gather the most accurate, real-time insight into weather and other relevant data, allowing them to better prepare for and respond to powerful and harmful storms.

When every second counts during extreme weather, customized alert systems help leaders focus their team’s attention to the information that matters the most, so informed decisions can be made quickly and accurately. Visualizing feeds and alerts for IoT sensors, traffic, lightening, water levels, telematic sensors and social media combined with real-time and forecasted weather benefits state and local officials seeking to respond to larger and larger storms.

Live Earth helps companies—like banks with multiple branches in cities affected by the storm or trucking companies with hundreds of trucks on the road—better assess, plan and respond to inclement weather faster and more accurately than ever before.

From intense wildfires to severe hurricanes, it appears weather patterns all over are changing, creating new challenges for responders and organizations attempting to handle new shifts. New, strong, solutions are required to monitor and respond to far-reaching, sometimes inescapable events. When data is converged onto one platform, organizations of all kinds gain actionable insight and can quickly communicate critical information to their teams and customers. Jobs like these are difficult, but we believe in creating technology that will help keep communities safer.

For a view of how Live Earth can help you better manage and protect your most important people and assets in any kind of weather, click here to try our real-time IoT visualization platform.

Craig Johnston is an engineer, accomplished business executive, and the VP of Business Development at Live Earth. He has over 30 years of experience bridging semiconductor technologies, computer hardware, computational analysis software, and operational management positions. His knack for building new relationships and partnerships brought him to his leadership position today, driving business development and marketing efforts for Live Earth. Outside the office, Craig is a competitive rower and a passionate social advocate.

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