Most first responders and emergency technicians are all too familiar with the threat of hazardous chemicals when responding to an accident or incident. From on-site chemical storage facilities to large tank farms to dangerous cargo, hazardous materials (HazMat) are ever-present in our world.
To help mitigate toxic spills, accidents, or incidents, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have produced the Computer Aided Management of Emergency Operations/Areal Locations of Hazardous Atmospheres (CAMEO/ALOHA) computer software program. CAMEO/ALOHA, in conjunction with MARPLOT, helps firefighters and emergency managers mitigate the effects of toxic chemicals leaked into the atmosphere.
Columbia Weather Systems has developed a computerized interface with CAMEO/ALOHA, through WeatherMaster™ software, that automatically inputs live weather readings for on-the-fly toxic plume modeling. The following steps are provided to interface the two software packages.
I. Open Aloha software.
A. Select SiteData from the top menu bar. A drop down sub-menu bar will appear.
1. Select Location. Select from the list of cities nearest the site or create a new location. Click Select to close the box.
2. Select Building Type and follow the on-screen selections. Click OK to close the box.
3. Select Date/Time, if different from the computer clock. Update and click OK to close the box.
B. Minimize Aloha software.
II. Open WeatherMaster software with weather station powered and transmitting data.
A. Click on Configuration tab on the top menu bar.
1. Click on Weather Stations from the drop-down menu.
a. Ensure the Aloha Interface Box is checked at the bottom left of the Weather Station dialog box and click OK.
b. Check that the task bar across the bottom of the screen indicates "Aloha Inactive" or "Aloha Active."
i. If it reads "Aloha Unavailable" refer to the troubleshooting notes for renaming the .dll file.
ii. If it does not say anything about Aloha at all, the Aloha Interface Box is not checked.
B. Minimize WeatherMaster.
III. Maximize ALOHA software.
A. Click on SetUp from the top menu bar. A drop down submenu bar will appear.
1. Select Chemical. Choose from the menu of chemicals listed and click Select. (Or add a new chemical, click on Add.)
2. Select Atmospheric. A side menu bar will appear.
a. Click on SAM Station. You should get the Note! dialog box below. Click Yes.
You want to get the Note! dialog box above. If, instead, you get the Serial Port Connection dialog box shown right, click cancel and refer to the troubleshooting notes for renaming the .dll file.
i. In the User Input dialog box:
Select Inversion Data. A Rule of Thumb to help determine Inversion information:
- If the barometric pressure is rising, the atmosphere is sinking vertically; therefore, select Inversion Present and a general height of 100ft, if otherwise unknown.
- If the barometric pressure is falling, the atmosphere is rising vertically; therefore, select No Inversion.
Select what best describes the Ground Roughness
Select Station Height above ground. 10 feet or 3 meters is average.
ii. In the Cloud Cover and Humidy dialog box:
Select what best describes the Cloud Cover.
Select what best describes the Humidity.
3. Observe the ATMOSPHERIC DATA in the Text Summary box. Once the Wind: changes from (unavail) to a reading, then select Source from the SetUp menu. Work through the dialog boxes selecting the parameters that best fit the conditions at the scene.
B. Click on Display from the top menu bar. A drop down sub-menu bar will appear.
1. Click on Threat Zone.
a. Select the appropriate Hazard to Analyze and click OK.
b. Click OK in Toxic Level of Concern dialog box.
c. A graphical display of the Toxic Threat Zone will appear and adjust as the weather conditions change.
HazMat technicians will use this information to help deploy resources, monitor potential evacuation requirements, mitigate the HazMat threat, and plan cleanup.
Troubleshooting Note - Renaming the .dll File:
If ALOHA and WeatherMaster are not communicating, WeatherMaster will show “ALOHA Unavailable” in the status bar and, when a SAM Station is selected, a Serial Port Connection dialog box will ask for a COM port .
The main cause of this problem is the location of the NOAA_32.dll file. This library file enables the two applications to communicate. This file should reside only in the Windows folder.
Perform a search to verify that the NOAA_32.dll file only exists in the C:\Windows folder (or equivalent.) If other copies of the NOAA_32.dll are found, simply rename then to NOAA_32.tmp.