Center for Biosecurity of UPMC  University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

Atlantic Storm



This training tabletop exercise is based on a fictional scenario. The inputs experts used for modeling the potential impact were fictional. It is a teaching and training resource for public health and government officials.

Atlantic Storm, a bioterrorism “table-top” exercise convened on January 14, 2005, was organized by the Center for Biosecurity of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the Center for Transatlantic Relations of the Johns Hopkins University (JHU), and the Transatlantic Biosecurity Network, with generous financial support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Atlantic Storm Interactive is a web-based, multimedia presentation that takes the briefings, updates, simulated newscasts, and other materials that were prepared for the exercise and integrates them with excerpts from the actual discussions of the exercise participants. This presentation has been designed to allow viewers to place themselves in the role of one of the decision-making participants or in the role of one of the event’s observers. The Guide for Viewers and Facilitators suggests ways to use this presentation and poses questions to help guide discussion of biosecurity challenges that were highlighted by the exercise.

As the presentation unfolds, please keep in mind that, while the exercise scenario was based on the events that might follow a bioterrorist attack with smallpox, Atlantic Storm was not about smallpox per se. Rather, the exercise was designed to highlight the numerous complicated global challenges that would arise in the event of any large-scale epidemic of infectious disease, whether caused by a bioterrorist attack or a naturally occurring outbreak. Excerpts from the participants’ discussions have been chosen specifically to convey the central themes that emerged in response to those challenges.

A scenario based on a smallpox outbreak is not a worst case scenario, given that most countries have smallpox response plans and that there is an existing global stockpile of more than 700 million doses of an effective vaccine. Other biosecurity threats, such as a naturally occurring influenza pandemic, could have even more devastating consequences.

Therefore, as you use Atlantic Storm Interactive, we encourage you to consider the ways in which the lessons and conclusions to be derived from Atlantic Storm should also inform plans for responding to all large-scale epidemics, regardless of pathogen or cause. This re-telling of Atlantic Storm is particularly instructive now, as the U.S. and other countries work to prepare for a possible human influenza pandemic.

  • Instructions  Orientation to the interface, functionality, and features of Atlantic Storm Interactive; recommended for first-time viewers.
  • Exercise Documents   Documents that were used during the Atlantic Storm exercise are available here to download and print in advance (PDFs); they are also embedded in the presentation.
  • START Atlantic Storm Interactive (please make sure your speakers are on). The presentation is approximately 60 minutes long if played without interruption.


This presentation includes sound and requires the Flash Player. If you do not have a current version of the Flash Player, please download Flash now. Please set your browser to allow pop-ups and active content if you would like to access all the documents available within the presentation.