Supplemental Funds Make a Difference in USGS Readiness for Hurricane Dorian

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Completed 2018 Supplemental Appropriations activities are being used to prepare for Hurricane Dorian in Puerto Rico and Florida. 

 

Stream gage network

Repaired USGS gages (n=83) in Puerto Rico (damaged during Hurricane Maria) were transmitting data throughout Hurricane Dorian. Stream gage discharge ratings are in use for flood warning in Puerto Rico. In addition, the rain gage network in Puerto Rico, including 33 new rain gages installed as part of USGS supplemental funding, were used by water managers throughout the event. As Hurricane Dorian approached Florida, repaired stream gages (n=99) (damaged during Hurricane Irma) will be used to monitor flooding.

Lidar data

Lidar acquisition from the 2018 supplemental will be available to support Hurricane Dorian recovery.  USGS has completed the acquisition of high-resolution lidar for large areas of Florida. USGS lidar data includes all watersheds along the east coast of Florida, from the Florida/Georgia border to the southern border of Broward County. Hurricane Dorian is projected to make landfall at some location along the central east coast of Florida. The existing lidar data will be an important pre-hurricane baseline dataset for measuring coastal change and assessing potential damages resulting from Hurricane Dorian’s impacts.

Landslides

Tropical Storm Dorian was expected to bring up to 10 inches of rain to Puerto Rico. Although recent rainfall patterns and USGS field monitoring data indicated soils were dry, isolated landslides were possible given forecasted rainfall amounts. In the days before the arrival of Dorian, the USGS coordinated with municipal emergency management and other partners to communicate an assessment of the threat and to answer any questions. Fortunately, most of the island received only modest rainfall, well below amounts expected to generate landslide. At this time the USGS has not received any reports of landslide occurrence, and Dorian provided an opportunity to test communication and coordination among partners and served to heighten awareness of landslide hazards with much of hurricane season still to come. 

Seismic Network
In preparation of possible impacts by Tropical Storm Dorian to the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (PRSN), the USGS National Earthquake Information Center (NEIC) in Golden, Colorado coordinated with PRSN personnel to ensure continuity of operations. The NEIC has in place procedures to provide backup to the PRSN and other regional seismic networks if needed. Fortunately, the impacts of Dorian have been modest and the PRSN was able to maintain operations uninterrupted. 

Puerto Rico Coastal Assessment  

With supplemental funding, USGS and University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (UPR-M) deployed a series of USGS instruments across the reefs off Rincon, Puerto Rico, in June 2018.  The site at Tres Palmas is one of the 4 sites where, using 2018 supplemental funding, the UPR-M and USGS will be comparing and contrasting coastal flooding models along coral reef-lined coasts to see what parameters are needed, and at what computational expense, to properly forecast coastal storm-induced flooding and to what degree of accuracy.

The new video remote sensing system at Tres Palmas, Rincon is imaging this field site. The wave/tide gauges are collecting information on those parameters, and the ARGUS-lite camera the resulting run-up.

 

Additional USGS Resources:

Hurricane Dorian - USGS Coastal Storm Response Team - Event Support Map

 

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Date published: August 29, 2019

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Editor’s Note: This story was originally published Aug. 29 and was updated Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 to reflect changes in the number and locations of sensor deployments as Hurricane Dorian's forecast track changed.

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Dorian, visit the USGS Hurricane Dorian page at www.usgs.gov/dorian.