Coastal Change Hazards Team Forecasted Hurricane Delta Beach Impacts

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As Hurricane Delta approached the US Gulf Coast, the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Team produced a series of forecasts for impacts on the beach. The model forecasts the probability of collision, overwash and inundation (pCOI) along the beach. Forecasts were updated daily based on wave and storm surge forecasts from NOAA.

The USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal shows a screenshot of Hurricane Delta approaching the northern U.S. Gulf Coast

The USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal displays forecasts for impacts of Hurricane Delta to Texas and Louisiana on the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline. (Public domain.)

Prior to landfall on October 9, 2020, the Coastal Change Hazards Team forecast that 60 percent of Louisiana’s barrier island beaches were very likely to erode at the dunes’ base. In addition, 64 percent of dunes were forecast to be very likely to be overwashed by storm waves and 35 percent of the dunes were forecast to be inundated. In the area of Texas included in the forecast, 45 percent of beaches were very likely to erode at the dunes’ base, 17 percent of dunes were forecast to be very likely to be overwashed by storm waves and none of the dunes were forecast to be inundated. In addition to informing the public, forecasts were used to determine placement of storm tide sensors for USGS real-time response to Hurricane Delta. After landfall of a storm, the Coastal Change Hazards Team uses NOAA imagery, USGS CoastCams, other beach cams, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) constructed from post-storm aerial imagery and lidar data, and observations from USGS sensors to validate forecasts.

The USGS Coastal Change Forecast model is used to estimate the impacts of elevated waves and storm surge along the coast due to extreme storms. This model has been in use since 2011 and is continually improved. To view a geonarrative about USGS tools to forecast coastal change, visit Real-time Forecasts of Coastal Change.

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Date published: August 24, 2017

Coastal Change Hazards Portal

Interactive access to coastal change science and data for our Nation’s coasts. Information and products are organized within three coastal change hazard themes: 1) extreme storms, 2) shoreline change, and 3) sea-level rise. Displays probabilities of coastal erosion.

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Date published: October 9, 2020

USGS: Delta will erode parts of Louisiana, Texas coasts

Editor’s note: This story updates and replaces a story published October 8, reflecting a new forecast that reduces the extent of Hurricane Delta’s impacts on central Gulf Coast sandy shorelines. 

To learn more about USGS’s role in providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Delta, visit www.usgs.gov/delta