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Lightning-Fast Weather Alerts Save Lives

Did you know in the first half of 2013, more than 440 tornadoes killed 106 people in the United States, including 24 in Moore, Oklahoma? Earth Networks’ innovative solutions, powered by Intel® Xeon®-based servers, collect and analyze billions of data points each day to provide earlier warnings that can reduce human tragedies.

Bill Callahan was meeting with fellow meteorologists on the afternoon of May 20, 2013, as the massive EF5 tornado bore down on Moore, Oklahoma. As he watched the tornado’s approach, Callahan said he was in awe of its power and saddened by the destruction and loss of life it was about to cause.

But Callahan was also filled with hope—because as a vice president at Earth Networks, he knows that technology is rapidly improving to give individuals and communities more time to prepare for extreme weather events like the massive tornado that struck Moore.

While reports suggested the two supercomputers that provide storm forecast guidance to the National Weather Service were underpowered and in need of upgrade, the Earth Networks Total Lightning Network* (ENTLN*) is delivering exceptional results through the massively scalable Amazon Web Services*, which is powered by Intel Xeon processor-based servers. The ENTLN is the world’s largest lightning detection network and the only one that detects in-cloud lightning on a large scale. Monitoring lightning in the clouds is crucial because it often indicates approaching severe weather. 

In 2011 when tornadoes accounted for more than 500 deaths, alerts issued by Earth Networks’ WeatherBug* applications provided 50 percent faster lead times on average than warnings from other weather apps—meaning people on the ground had an average of nine minutes more to prepare. 

Organizations including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service and the Air Force Weather Agency are now using data from the ENTLN to advance their own severe weather forecasting and warning applications. Callahan said the goal is to eventually give people as much as two hours warning before devastating tornadoes and other weather events strike.

Bill Callahan

Intel® Server Products

“Using Intel-based servers in the Amazon cloud and our more than 10,000 weather stations worldwide, we are able to process billions of real-time data transactions each day, receiving, creating and communicating critical information that results in earlier storm warnings, and we hope fewer fatalities, related to severe weather.”

— Bill Callahan

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