Skip to main content

How’s the Weather? Severe Weather Classifications in Syndromic Surveillance


Hurricane ‘Superstorm’ Sandy struck New Jersey on October 29, 2012, causing harm to the health of New Jersey residents and billions of dollars of damage to businesses, transportation, and infrastructure. Monitoring health outcomes for increased illness and injury due to a severe weather event is important in measuring the severity of conditions and the efficacy of state response, as well as in emergency response preparations for future severe weather events. Following the experience with Hurricane Sandy, NJDOH initiated a project to develop a suite of 19 indicators, known as the Severe Weather Classifier (SWC) in EpiCenter, an online system which collects emergency department chief complaint data in real-time, to perform syndromic surveillance of extreme weather–related conditions. NJDOH has since used these classifiers in more recent events to monitor for weather-related visits to storm-affected area emergency departments (ED’s).

In June, 2015, a squall line of damaging thunderstorms, known as a “bow echo,” caused downed wires and multi-day power outages in Camden and Gloucester counties in southern New Jersey. Almost exactly seven months later, in January, 2016, Winter Storm Jonas dropped more than a foot of snow over New Jersey. These events provided an opportunity to assess the indicators within SWC. 


To report the results of the application of New Jersey’s Severe Weather Classifier in New Jersey’s syndromic surveillance system during two extreme weather events. 

Submitted by Magou on