Weather Group Chases Tornadoes With Megapixel Technology

The BAM Chase Team, a weather group in Indiana that collects weather data and posts its forecasts and outlooks via social media, tracked more than 20 notable storms last year with the help of several IQinVision IQeye megapixel cameras, an on-board server and OnSSI’s Ocularis video management software (VMS).

Made up of Bryan Kilgore, his wife Amanda, and Michael Clark, the BAM Chase Team monitors computer models and data to forecast when and where a storm may happen and will sometimes travel to multiple storms in one day.

“If we see something, we chase the storms as they’re developing,” Bryan Kilgore says.

Related Photo Gallery: Chasing Tornadoes With Megapixel Technology

Wanting to simplify capture of multiple high definition (HD) video images of tornadoes and severe weather, the three-member team equipped its GMC Yukon with six IQeye HD megapixel cameras. To provide a 360-degree video view surrounding the vehicle, BAM Chase Team mounted four IQinVision 2-megapixel (1,080p) Alliance-mx cameras on the vehicle’s roof. Located on the Yukon’s dashboard is an IQinVision 1,080p camera on a tripod, which can be positioned by the driver or front seat passenger in the direction of a storm. Rounding out the devices is a custom-built IQinVision wireless handheld 1,080p camera that enables a team member outside the vehicle to capture video.

The cameras record straight to the server hard drive. The group soon hopes to add a seventh camera for A/V streaming inside the vehicle to be used on BAM Chase Team’s new premium stream.

To serve as the center of a power over Ethernet (PoE) network, the BAM Chase Team installed a custom-built server rack with two servers with 3TB of storage in the Yukon’s cargo area. With the OnSSI Ocularis CS software running on the server, the BAM Chase Team can capture video from six cameras all at once. Based on when a storm occurred, the team can use Ocularis to specify a time and see video from multiple cameras on screen at once in a quadrant view or a full view of any one camera.

Mounted on the back of the vehicle are two flat-panel monitors. A recently added weather station also allows for live, up-to-date information on weather conditions associated with storms the team chases.

The BAM Chase Team provides a live online video stream to the Severe Studios Web site. The crew also sells its videos to a variety of television stations and weather professionals at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and National Weather Service (NWS) use the video content for study.

“Mother Nature is very unpredictable, so there’s always an element of danger because you never know what a storm is going to do,” Kilgore says. “Because of the element of surprise, we try to help warn the public by giving data and alerting the NWS.”

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