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McEntire's Eagle Vision 4 collects images of Winter Storm Nemo

  • Published
  • By Capt. Roy Condrey
  • 169th Communications Flight
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. - Two days before the Blizzard of 2013, known as Winter Storm Nemo, hit New England; the J2, Massachusetts Joint Force Headquarters submitted a request for imagery to the Eagle Vision (EV) System Program Office (SPO) at Hanscom Air Force Base. They requested images of the area impacted after the storm. The 169th Communications Flight EV 4 Mobile Ground Satellite Station at McEntire JNGB, S.C. received the task and immediately began planning to acquire optical images from Maine to Rhode Island as soon as the storm passed over.

Chief Master Sgt. Pete Wiedel oversaw the operation and interfaced with the SPO regarding funding, personnel availability, and customer requests. Master Sgt. Eddie McManus and Staff Sgt. Dennis McDougal were charged with receiving data on the Data Acquisition Segment (DAS), as well as maintenance issues that came up during the entire collection period. Master Sgt. Troy Wilkerson was responsible for processing and disseminating the imagery.

After the storm ended, it had dumped up to three feet of snow in certain areas, entombed vehicles and caused massive power outages. The storm affected nine US states, and was also responsible for the closure of several highways, airports, businesses and schools. There were also a total of 18 deaths caused by heart attacks, carbon monoxide poisoning, automobile accidents and collapsing roofs.

The EV4 team collected, processed and distributed more than 17 images from the Spot-5 satellite. These products were emailed to the J2 and uploaded to the EVR2EST database and the Hazards Data Distribution System (HDDS).

During this event, EV 4 was able to test a new ArcGIS PCI Geo tool plug-in. Usually the team has to utilize the process of manually stitching together multiple images to create one scene, which could take up to four or five hours. However, the PCI Geo tool automates the image stitching process and reduces the time to 40 minutes. That is a huge improvement in process time, which frees up resources and gets products in the hands of customer faster.

EV4 is one of five DoD-deployable, commercial satellite ground stations in the world. They provide customers with commercial satellite imagery of locations within their 1,300-mile visibility circle, reaching as far as Canada, South America, Texas and the mid-Atlantic Ocean. Their primary mission is to disseminate imagery to the FEMA, USGS and various other government agencies during natural disasters, but can also be used to support mission planning, time-critical targeting and non-war related operations.

The EV teams most often provide images for events such as fires, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. However, they have also supported first responders' efforts during Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy and the Earthquakes in Haiti. Eagle Vision is highly sought after and utilized during most natural disasters within their visibility circle because of their ability to quickly acquire near real-time unclassified satellite imagery.