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Coastal Change Hazards Team Forecasted Hurricane Henri Beach Impacts

As Hurricane Henri approached the US northeast Atlantic coast, the USGS Coastal Change Hazards team produced a series of forecasts for impacts on the beach. Forecasts for New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts were updated daily based on wave and storm surge forecasts from NOAA.

Map shows potential coastal change impacts for landfall of Hurricane Henri
The Coastal Change Hazards team forecasted Hurricane Henri beach impacts on August 22, 2021 (zoomed-in view; public domain.)

Prior to landfall on August 22, 2021, the Coastal Change Hazards Team forecast that 36 percent of Rhode Island beaches, 18 percent of southern Massachusetts beaches, and 8 percent of New York beaches were very likely to erode at the dunes’ base. Two percent of dunes were forecast to be very likely to be overwashed by storm waves in southern Massachusetts, while no dunes were expected to be overwashed in Rhode Island or New York. No dunes within the forecast area were expected to be inundated (completely submerged) by surge, tide, and waves. In addition to special forecasts focused on impacts at the peak of the storm, real-time forecasts were also ongoing in the Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer. In addition to informing the public, forecasts were used to determine placement of storm tide sensors for USGS real-time response to Hurricane Henri. 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.

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