Close call for Kent State University scientists in Oklahoma - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

Close call for Kent State University scientists in Oklahoma

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Joplin, Missouri tornado damage, November 2012 Joplin, Missouri tornado damage, November 2012

Dr. Andrew Curtis, Associate Professor of Geography, knows tornados.

He and students at Kent State University have been studying their aftermath with a high tech series of camera and data analysis.

It's video encoded with coordinates, or "mobile mapping" similar to Google Earth. They then analyze it with a Geographic Information System and go back months later to track progress. 

"It's a way to look at the amount of damage on a fine scale but then afterwards we use that as a baseline to start to look at recovery going forward," said Curtis.

The scientist used the technology in Joplin Missouri, November 2012.  When they surveyed the aftermath of that infamous tornado that wiped out miles and miles of everything in it's path.

But last week when the team was in Moore, Oklahoma surveying the sickening devastation and loss, they nearly became statistics themselves. They took cover in their hotel room and captured video as the sky darkened from daylight to dark in a matter of minutes. The Warning was issued that another tornado was rolling in. That's when they hunkered down with the rest of the hotel guests.

"We thought we were going to be hit and then we were just basically waiting to see what would happen," said Curtis.

Turns out the tornado missed their hotel. The damage was limited to wind and rain damage.

"This was interesting because it was the first time I've actually been in a tornado warning situation where you thought it was going to hit you," added Curtis.

Being in the thick of it themselves, and seeing the resiliency of the people who live in Oklahoma, these researchers are thinking even more now about how they can use that "Geospacial Technology" to learn how to warn potential victims sooner.

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