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What is the role of the USGS in responding to hurricanes?

The USGS creates detailed maps of our Nation’s shorelines, dunes, and coastal cliffs, and studies how storm processes impact our coastlines. This information is used to predict and map coastal vulnerability to changes caused by major storms, long-term shoreline erosion, sea-level rise, and sea cliff erosion.

One example is the USGS Coastal Change Forecast model, which uses storm surge predictions, wave forecast models, beach slope, and dune height to predict how high waves and surge will move up a beach during a hurricane, and whether the protective dunes will be overtopped. This helps emergency managers identify where serious problems are likely to occur during a storm.

The USGS also often deploys a network of storm-tide sensors at key locations when a hurricane is approaching the coast. The information they collect helps public officials assess storm damage, discern between wind and flood damage, and improve computer models used to forecast future floods.

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