Observing Weather Extremes through Story Maps

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Inclement or otherwise extreme weather can be detrimental to infrastructure. To monitor this, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has created a multiple-phased effort that helps project future consequences and the impacts of these weather occurrences.

This study involved engagement with stakeholders, along with the identification of and comprehensive analysis of the historical impacts of extreme weather.  The results from this study allow researchers to identify risk factors that prove to be a common theme with impacting infrastructure.

Risk assessment is one of the primary themes of this study, creating a frame that helps evaluate flooding vulnerabilities. This provided essential data to support the planning of new projects, and helped determine the primary locations that needed more detailed study. The risk assessment also served as the main mapping output of the study itself, providing data cartography for information such as vulnerable county conditions, state owned bridges susceptible to damage from flood plains. and observed precipitation.

Screenshot from PennDOT's Extreme Weather Story Map showing Historic Flooding Risk Assessment.
Screenshot from PennDOT’s Extreme Weather Story Map showing Historic Flooding Risk Assessment.

After the assessment phase, this study moved onto strategies that could help alleviate future weather damages. These strategies considered both the prior observed data along with potential future impacts of climate change, allowing for more exploration into finely tuned forecasting methodology that could project weather affects for a greater number of counties. Resiliency concepts, or plans to promote better planning for infrastructure projects, are also based on the findings from this study. However, it serves as only part of what could potentially be a greater statewide scope of investigation.

This story map compiles all of PennDOT’s gathered research, and presents it in an accessible and visually vibrant way for researchers to download files and copy map layers for their own purposes.

Story Map: Extreme Weather Vulnerability Study




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