Windstorm damage surveys using high-resolution satellite images

J. Arn Womble, Beverley J. Adams, Kishor C. Mehta

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Since 1999, a new generation of high-resolution commercial imaging satellites has enabled the detection of physical changes in individual buildings. With spatial resolutions of less than 1 m, such multispectral ("color") satellite imagery offers significant enhancements to traditional windstorm investigation for the location and identification of damaged buildings. Traditional forensic-engineering surveys of windstorm-damaged buildings have highlighted the need for rapid assessments of damage to buildings throughout an entire region, a goal generally not achieved in the past due to limited time (prior to cleanup and repair efforts), manpower, and access to affected areas. While satellite-based surveys do not replace detailed forensic surveys of building damage, remote-sensing technology can provide rapid and automated assessments of overall damage levels and extents, which assist in the rapid allocation and deployment of emergency-response resources and in the strategic planning of more detailed forensic surveys. A broad range of windstorm damage to buildings is visible from above; thus, modern satellite imagery (1) permits rapid estimates of windstorm damage throughout an entire region; (2) assists strategic planning for limited but detailed ground-truthing surveys; and (3) provides a basis for the extension of sampling surveys to the full building population. Following Hurricane Charley in August 2004, ground reconnaissance teams from the Texas Tech University Wind Science and Engineering Research Center and industry partner ImageCat, Inc. (supported by NSF-SGER, NSF-IGERT, NIST, MCEER, and the Natural Hazards Center) utilized high-resolution satellite images to direct ground-based damage surveys and to collect data for the correlation of remote-sensing damage signatures with ground-truthing observations. With the use of advanced technology, the reconnaissance teams acquired a permanent visual record of windstorm damage to some 10,000 buildings for use in current and future research efforts. This paper discusses the use of satellite images in windstorm damage reconnaissance activities as well as ongoing efforts to quantify windstorm damage using remote sensing measures.

Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 2005
Event10th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering, ACWE 2005 - Baton Rouge, LA, United States
Duration: May 31 2005Jun 4 2005


Conference10th Americas Conference on Wind Engineering, ACWE 2005
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBaton Rouge, LA


  • GPS
  • Hurricane charley
  • Hurricane ivan
  • Image processing
  • Quickbird
  • Remote sensing
  • SAR
  • Satellite images
  • Windstorm damage


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