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How the Weather Channel Made That Insane Hurricane Florence Storm Surge Animation

Friday September 14, 2018. 04:00 PM , from Slashdot
The Weather Channel's 3-D, room-encompassing depiction of the Hurricane Florence storm surge took many by surprise on Friday (Second video). It doesn't tell, it shows, more bracingly than you'd think would be possible on a meteorological update, writes Wired. Here's how they did it. CNET: In one video, meteorologist Erika Navarro demonstrates what a progressive storm surge would mean at a human level. (Storm surge is simply the 'abnormal rise of water generated by a storm' that is 'produced by water being pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds,' according to the National Hurricane Center.) 'Storm surge is going to be potentially life-threatening for some areas along the US coastline,' Navarro says. Then she demonstrates what's described as a 'reasonable, worst-case scenario for areas along North Carolina.' Here's where the video gets heart-in-throat scary. As Navarro stands and speaks, the weather maps behind her dissolve away, and she is shown standing in a computer-generated neighborhood. The CGI water rises behind her, setting a red car afloat and flooding homes. The Weather Channel has been using augmented reality since 2015. This year, it partnered with content and technology provider The Future Group and its impressive Immersive Mixed Reality technology, which uses Unreal Engine software. The tech debuted on TWC in June, when meteorologist Jim Cantore used it to walk viewers through what would happen if a tornado hit the channel's own studios. A demo showing the power of lightning followed in July. Reaction to the hurricane explainer has been overwhelmingly positive, said Michael Potts, Weather Channel's vice president of design. 'It was created to evoke an automatic visceral reaction, to imagine that this could be real,' Potts said. 'And people are sharing it with friends and family as a warning tool. The amount of engagement across all of our platforms has been some of the highest we've ever seen.' The neighborhood Navarro is standing in looks real, but it's all virtual graphics created in a new green-screen studio built at the channel's Atlanta headquarters. 'All the graphics you see, from the cars, the street, the houses and the entire neighborhood are created using the Unreal Engine -- they are not real,' Potts says. 'The circle she is standing in is the presentation area, it's a 'safe' space that is not affected by the weather.... The maps and data are all real-time and the atmospheric conditions are driven by the forecast.' More on this here.

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