Benefits and limitations of using standard Forest Inventory and Analysis data to describe the extent of a catastrophic weather event
Within the days and weeks following a catastrophic weather event, governmental forestry agencies often implement aerial reconnaissance missions to delineate damage zones. These initial rapid assessments are sometimes followed by on-the-ground surveys in order to verify the rapid assessments and more precisely quantify damage. When aerial or on-the-ground surveys are not feasible, data collected by the Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) Program of the Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, may be considered an alternative source of information to describe the extent and severity of damage. This study assessed the benefits and limitations of using standard FIA data to describe the geographical extent of damage from the January 2009 ice storm that left a glazing of up to 2 inches thick across the Central United States. Results demonstrated that standard FIA data may provide a suitable, though somewhat limited, substitute for rapid assessments conducted shortly after large-area catastrophic weather events.