Coastal Change Hazards Team Forecasted Hurricane Laura Beach Impacts

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As Hurricane Laura approached the US Gulf Coast, the USGS Coastal Change Hazards team produced a series of forecasts for impacts on the beach. Forecasts were updated daily based on wave and storm surge forecasts from NOAA.

A graphic map of the Gulf Coast with red and white strips along it, showing likelihood of effects of Hurricane

View of the USGS Coastal Change Hazards Portal as  Hurricane Laura approached the US Gulf Coast on August 26, 2020. (Public domain.)

Prior to landfall on August 27, 2020, the Coastal Change Hazards Team forecast that 82 percent of Louisiana beaches were very likely to erode at the dunes’ base. In addition, 78 percent of dunes were forecast to be very likely to be overwashed by storm waves and 59 percent of the dunes were forecast to be inundated. In northeast Texas, 59 percent of beaches were very likely to erode at the dunes’ base, 29 percent of dunes were forecast to be very likely to be overwashed by storm waves and 17 percent of the dunes were forecast to be inundated. In addition to informing the public, forecasts were used to determine placement of sensors for USGS real-time response to Hurricane Laura. 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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Editor's Note: This updated story reflects today's coastal change forecast and includes a new map.

 

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