MegaCity Death by Micro-Climate

Mega Cities going Mad Max are not the only concern when you live a large city now you must be deal with destructive technology-induced microclimates. It is similar to the phenomena experienced by wildfires micro-climate. In 2030 66% of the worlds population will live in a Mega-City.  By 2050, nearly 70% of the world will be forced into living in dense urban Mega Cities.  Most of these cities are in complex terrain environments.  Weather conditions within these dense urban and complex terrain (DUCT) environments will influence a greater populace.

Current state-of-the science atmospheric sensing, characterization, and forecasting capabilities cannot accurately represent the rapidly changing and complex atmospheric processes within a DUCT environment.

These extreme vacillating conditions will impact DUCT areas already stressed by urban growth and a failing public infrastructure. Unique weather conditions experienced within the DUCT will highlight, and even magnify, weather sensitivities threatening populations living in Mega Cities.

How do researchers, scientists, city planners, and the military view MegaCity DUCT?  MegaCity DUCT are considered a battlefield with a need to permeate the city with disruptive technology.  saturate the environment with sensors, military personnel, Intelligence Preparation for the Battlefield (IPB), Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).  This is not being deployed in Iraq, these are being deployed in MegaCities.

The Emerald City

Seattleites live in one of the rainiest. Winter is a very long, very gray tunnel, during which the city sees most of its annual 150 wet days. But Seattlites are not prepared for what is coming to the Emerald City.

In the past 14 years, he said, “the stats have changed such that the definition of an extreme event has changed.” A storm that was previously expected only once in 100 years is now likely in 25.  Worst-case-scenario, 1,000-year-event in which an atmospheric river loaded with moisture slides in off the Pacific and stalls above Seattle for a week. The impacts to the city and especially to its surrounding rivers, which could see 25 inches of rain, would be catastrophic, and “we are very much due.”  The heaviest rain events in Oregon and Washington are projected to intensify by about 20 percent by the 2080s, and flooding is predicted to worsen, according to a University of Washington climate assessment.

Thunderstorms and downpours are historically rare in Seattle, which actually receives less annual rainfall than Miami. Most of its precipitation comes as a gray mist. The city’s infrastructure is built with these low, steady steady mists in mind.

In recent decades there has been an  increase in both the frequency and intensity of deadly deluges.  Beginning in 2006 Seattle began witnessing weather phenomena never known in history.


A unique storm formed on October 28, 2006, some 900 miles off the coast of Oregon.  It was a hybrid weather event formed from warm-cored tropical cyclone, cold-cored extratropical cyclone, and an uncommon type of winter storm called a Polar Low. The temperatures allowed the storm to generate a cloud-free eye and an eye-wall.  Cyclone-hurricanes were unknown to the Pacific, not named, and so weathermen called the odd beast,  "Thingamabobbercane". Thingamabobbercane was being called 91C at the Navy web site. 

Weather news watchers were only shown bands of rain clouds on their screens, with weathermen leaving out that it was a tropical hybrid cyclone-hurricane.   The exact status and nature of this weather event is claimed to be unknown, with meteorologists and weather agencies having differing opinions.  Those familiar with weather modification knew the storms origin.

The Thingamabobbercane was followed by weeks of intense winds and Arctic weather spilling down from the Frasier River Valley in Canada. 

Thingamabobbercane resembles the January 1995 weirdo storm that formed in the Mediterranean Sea. This unusual storm also looked like a hurricane, and formed over waters of similar temperature. Another odd hybrid storm like Thingamabobbercane formed over Lake Huron on September 14, 1996. Hurricane Huron started as a cold-cored low pressure system, then gradually acquired a warm core as it drifted over the relatively warm waters of Lake Huron.

Great Coastal Gale of 2007


As I was getting ready to entertain some beekeepers from Belarus In December 2007,  I received an activation call to mobilize at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  By the time I arrived, plans were already in progress to evacuate the whole Pacific Northwest.  It was believed that due to heavy rains, breaking dikes, and ill prepared infrastructure that at least Washington State would be submerged. 

It was déjà vu from the 2006 winter season, two storms slammed into Washington and Oregon bringing massive flooding and wind gusts that topped 100 miles per hour. Seattle registered 5.61 inches of rain in only 24 hours.

The brutal storms blanketed the Northwest with devastation with subsequent Arctic storm turning the flooded wastelands into a frigid nightmare. 

A massive stormwater storage project is already underway in one of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods. Ballard, which sits just northwest of downtown, is representative of the city’s vulnerabilities. It is both low-lying and served by an outdated system that combines sewage and stormwater drainage. Polluted runoff shed by neighboring hills frequently floods this hip, lock-side borough. With pipes too small to manage, the system is forced to offload a mix of rainwater and sewage into nearby Lake Union—a serious public health and environmental hazard.

Flooding has become so bad that in 2005 Seattle bought Bertha from Japan, a giant boring machine named Bertha to make a dual use transportation system slash flood mitigation.  The whole project was a giant fiasco taking longer and costing much more to complete.  Once this $430 million project is operational in 2026, the city estimates it will save more than 60 million gallons of raw sewage and polluted runoff from overflowing annually. Managers are replacing old and small pipes and retrofitting facilities as needed. They’re also installing remote sensors to monitor and control flows in real time during storms.

Dante's DUCT Inferno

Another facet of MegCity operations is during the summer the micro-climates heat up amplifying the heat already radiating within the city DUCT.

The World Health Organization published:  Heatwaves and health: guidance on warning-system development in 2015. 

Heat waves can have significant direct and indirect impacts on and it is the vulnerable individuals or sectors of society that may experience the direct impacts. At the level of the individual, the health effects of heat are relative, due to a range of heat-risk factors. There are various health factors that make certain population at risk for health and this is certainly the case in MegaCities.  At risk individuals are the elderly, children persons with cardiovascular or respiratory disease, heavy laborers, gender, type of dwelling, fluid disorders, and neurological disorders.  Heat waves have a synergistic effect of several heat-risk factors may prove fatal.  This guidance paper actually indicates that if you have a vulnerable population that population is likely to not make it through the intensifying heat waves, problem solved. 

Sense or Sensibility?

It is presumed that complex local terrain weather conditions can be accurately sensed, characterized, and predicted and that such information will be a force multiplier for local commanders leading those operations in these multifacted and intricate domains.  You may have some dilute form of data that has been prearranged and in a messaging format.

How multifacted can operations get in DUCT?  Very strange indeed!  I was 3 days into the Great Coastal Gale of 2007 when my superior told me to keep an eye out for a whale in the river.  After three days in the EOC everyone loosens up and humor begins to emerge, I thought she was kidding.  Two hours later the Tribes called in on some disaster matter and they said, "By the way, we spotted your whale in the river."  No kidding.  Somehow a Gray Whale entered into Puget Sound and up into the river.  During that operation there were many peculiar animal situations, and while I have no proof, it is my belief that frequencies played a large part in those storms which threw off the animals audience abilities.

The often complex and varied local weather conditions within a DUCT domain can wreak havoc on battlefield sensor performance. Since sensors are influenced by not only target, but also background signatures, the complex and oftentimes densely packed structures of the urban environment together with heating and cooling changes, precipitation, and atmospheric aerosol concentrations impact infrared and acoustic sensors and performance.

Specific weather sensing requirements within the DUCT need to be addressed, insofar as determining ideal numbers, types, placement, etc., to insure weather prediction models are initialized using the most recent and accurate local conditions possible. These sensing advances will provide data to enhance the understanding of Megacity atmospheric processes critical to improving the underlying physics and dynamics of micro-scale atmospheric models tailored to such domains.

In Seattle, for instance, as freeways were repaired sensors were embedded into the freeways every 100 feet.  These can access and track any movement you may make as well as atmospheric conditions such as ice on the road or extreme heat.

DUCT Winds

You have no idea how complex the terrain of a MegaCity is with natural and man-made obstacles that can significantly influence near-surface wind patterns across just a few city blocks. Wind funneling can be so unpredictable between, around, and over buildings and can lead to small unmanned aerial system failure, inaccurate dispersion plume predictions (chemical, biological, smoke, etc.,interfering with management with ), and many other related environmental impacts and effects issues for the 'warfighters' in such domains. Significant research and development efforts are needed to determine such micro-scale wind effects within unique DUCT environments.

Consider the Hannukah Eve Windstorm Seattle 2006

Severe Weather Concerns

Flooding, drought, excess heat/cold, precipitation, and wind influences in each particular Megacity can be drastically different from day to day, hour to hour, and from one section of the Megacity to another.  Managing these micro-climates are a wicked problem to contend with.  

Once these severe manipulated weather events began to manifest, not in a singular lifetime event, but year after year managers began preparing for the eventuality of events such as 350 mph winds, 100 pound hail stones, and devastating floods. 

Decision tools were designed for severe weather events and their effects such as food, communications, fuel, and service distribution, for both military and civilian operations.  Messaging tools on what the government wants the populace during disaster were compiled for all predicted events that can be used as a text message, in a phone bank, and for media.

OP Challenges in MegaCity Domains

Military units deploying within a DUCT domain are more than likely to operate in small teams conducting short duration missions. These teams will often execute different types of missions within city blocks of each other. The DUCT environment can be heavily influenced by micro-climate weather conditions which are often significantly different from one block to the next.

Most DUCT environments are located near significant bodies of water which further influence micro-climates associated with these high humidity and valley terrain areas.

Weather conditions within the DUCT domain effect threat operations will impact the intelligence and operation when dealing with friendly or threat forces, such as disaster viewers, gangs or fleeing individuals. 

Mission watch provides operational commanders a real-time weather picture of the Area of Operations (AO) during mission execution. Effective weather “mission watch” provides atmospheric monitoring of choke points, avenues of approach and even military objectives within the AO. This occurs whether the disaster is a flood, wind, or heat wave

It is being proposed  to address environmental intelligence by autonomous systems in MegaCities, swarms of unmanned ground/air micro-vehicles could be equipped with weather sensors to dramatically improve currently inadequate local weather condition sensing and thus improve the accuracy of local DUCT atmospheric prediction models.

Decision-makers are looking at weather technologies for all echelons looking ahead to the MegaCity/DUCT battlefields of 2030 and beyond.  Once again we hear the clarion call to revolutionize atmospheric sensing, characterization, and predicting the DUCT environment. 

Forces are unifying for this strategic preparedness operation.  Battlefield Environment Division at Army Research Laboratory (ARL), in conjunction with research partners across the DoD, academia, and civilian public and private arenas, will be using a combination of existing very fine-scale resolution (microscale) meteorological tower arrays, unmanned system-hosted existing/emerging sensor technologies, and optimized sensor placement strategies to include crowdsourcing techniques to sense and characterize DUCT atmospheric domains.

Applying sensor data and characterization improvements  to novel, forward-deployed micro-scale Nowcasting ("pocket modeling") technology hosted on computationally complex but extremely efficient small graphic portable devices is the way of the future for DUCT operational weather forecasting.

Observed data must be used to verify/validate the atmospheric modeling weather forecast improvements as related to value-added to the DUCT warfighter.  By showing improved localized weather forecasts significantly enhances warfighter operations. Applying all such fine-scale technology improvement lessons learned from operations in adverse DUCT weather conditions will be one critical result a long-term effort. Thus, Megacity battlefield commanders will be provided with a full picture of predicted atmospheric effects and impacts on local operations, including expected losses due to hazardous weather.

Pocket modeling (focused local atmospheric prediction technology hosted on personal communications devices), crowdsourcing sensed data, and GPGPU advances for atmospheric prediction computing are just a few of the disruptive technologies to be used as the capability to run a complex terrain atmospheric model is pushed to the lowest echelons in the battlefield which will positively affect current  processes. Development of deployable hardware and software system prototypes for weather effects intelligence and decision tools for DUCT environments is the planned culmination of ARL’s work on meteorological sensor arrays, microscale atmospheric prediction systems, and unmanned system and atmospheric sensing platform resources to reach these technological goals.

This provides confidence in planning and execution of all military operations; forecast accuracy improvements mean a safer operating environment for military and civilian personnel with few weather surprises. Weather sensing in DUCT domains also provides critical, real-time situational awareness supporting current operations.

Advanced development of microscale models. Develop DUCT fine-scale operational local atmospheric modeling capabilities suitable for forecast center and forward-deployed implementation on the smallest computational platforms possible. Such capabilities will support both operational theater forecast centers as well as the lowest battlefield echelons with on-scene local atmospheric predictions. These forecasts will have the capability to ingest the most current, locally-sensed atmospheric data. Local forward-deployed atmospheric modeling capabilities will ensure timely weather forecast updates to Megacity commanders and decision-makers down to actionable Soldier levels.

Weather sensing capabilities, combined with better model physics, will significantly improve the weather forecast accuracies within an urban environment. Additionally, developing forward-deployed and frequently updated small “pocket” computer platform atmospheric modeling capabilities, providing data to on-board weather decision tools will significantly enhance the local timeliness and accuracy of microscale DUCT weather predictions.

New weather related decision aids include sensor performance tools for multiple modalities, including acoustic, infrared, radar, and seismic. Urban routing tools must account for manned and unmanned ground and aerial vehicles. Decision aid development must include applications supporting a prediction of human domain conditions based on weather and climate combined with and including populace reactions to military operations.

Weather is the True Force Multiplier

Weather conditions significantly influence military operations within Megacity DUCT operational domains. Confident execution of military operations demand comprehensive weather support at spatial and temporal resolutions that accurately depict microclimates found in every DUCT environment. Weather conditions effect all aspects of the geospatial environment within the Megacity. Providing necessary critical, real-time situational awareness supporting future operations as well as providing essential input to weather forecast models and decision support tools. Battlefield Commanders will have a full picture of predicted atmospheric effects and impacts on DUCT operations, including expected losses due to hazardous weather.

Accurate and timely weather observations are a true force multiplier. How well sensors and new technology will protect those dwelling in MegaCities is unknown.  Until technology is tested and verified the streets of MegaCities will remain complex terrains with howling winds, varying micro-climates, searing heat, and and extreme weather in part from engineered weather and in part creating their own superstorms due to their design.



2006 Pacific hurricane season

1951 Hawaii cyclone

1975 Pacific Northwest hurricane

1996 Lake Huron cyclone

Tropical Storm Omeka

South Atlantic tropical cyclone

Mediterranean tropical cyclone

"Tropical Storm (TS) 16W (Wene*)". 2000 Annual Tropical Cyclone Report. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Retrieved 2008-01-02.

National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division; Central Pacific Hurricane Center (September 25, 2015). "The Northeast and North Central Pacific hurricane database 1949–2014".

"Thingamabobbercane revisited". Jeff Masters' Blog. Weather Underground. 2006-11-08.

"2006 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season". National Hurricane Center. Archived from the original on 12 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-01.

Andy Nash, Tim Craig, Sam Houston, Roy Matsuda, Jeff Powell, Ray Tanabe, & Jim Weyman (July 2007). "2006 Tropical Cyclones Central North Pacific". Central Pacific Hurricane Center and-applications-for-future-megacity-and-dense


Author Information


 Celeste has worked as a contractor for Homeland Security and FEMA.  Her training and activations include the infamous day of 911, flood and earthquake operations, mass casualty exercises, and numerous other operations.  Celeste is FEMA certified and has completed the Professional Development Emergency Management Series.

  • Train-the-Trainer
  • Incident Command
  • Integrated EM:  Preparedness, Response, Recovery, Mitigation
  • Emergency Plan Design including all Emergency Support Functions
  • Principles of Emergency Management
  • Developing Volunteer Resources
  • Emergency Planning and Development
  • Leadership and Influence, Decision Making in Crisis
  • Exercise Design and Evaluation
  • Public Assistance Applications
  • Emergency Operations Interface
  • Public Information Officer
  • Flood Fight Operations
  • Domestic Preparedness for Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Incident Command (ICS-NIMS)
  • Multi-Hazards for Schools
  • Rapid Evaluation of Structures-Earthquakes
  • Weather Spotter for National Weather Service
  • Logistics, Operations, Communications
  • Community Emergency Response Team Leader
  • Behavior Recognition

And more….

Celeste grew up in a military & governmental home with her father working for the Naval Warfare Center, and later as Assistant Director for Public Lands and Natural Resources, in both Washington State and California. 

Celeste also has training and expertise in small agricultural lobbying, Integrative/Functional Medicine, asymmetrical and symmetrical warfare, and Organic Farming.