Why is elevation data so important to forecasting hurricane impact?

The fundamental lesson of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 (and prior catastrophic storms and hurricanes), was that storm vulnerability is first and foremost a consequence of elevation. The height at which infrastructure, resources, and communities sit in relation to average tides and water levels, storm waves, surge, and flood waters determines their exposure to overwhelmingly powerful damaging forces. Reliable, accurate, and accessible elevation information are priorities for communities anticipating impacts and preparing response strategies. Post-storm elevation is also critical for the design of resilient and cost efficient post-storm redevelopment.

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What are Tsunamis?

Tsunamis are ocean waves triggered by: Large earthquakes that occur near or under the ocean Volcanic eruptions Submarine landslides Onshore landslides in which large volumes of debris fall into the water Scientists do not use the term "tidal wave" because these waves are not caused by tides. Tsunami waves are unlike typical ocean waves generated...

Could a large tsunami happen in the United States?

Large tsunamis have occurred in the United States and will undoubtedly occur again. Significant earthquakes around the Pacific rim have generated tsunamis that struck Hawaii, Alaska, and the U.S. west coast. One of the largest and most devastating tsunamis that Hawaii has experienced was in 1946 from an earthquake along the Aleutian subduction...

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...

Where can I find flood maps?

FEMA is the official public source for flood maps for insurance purposes: FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center FEMA’s Flood Hazard Map FAQs NOAA is responsible for producing flood forecast maps that combine precipitation data with USGS streamflow data: National Flood Forecasts Interactive Flood Information Map Coastal Inundation Dashboard : Real-time...

How are floods predicted?

Flood predictions require several types of data: The amount of rainfall occurring on a real-time basis. The rate of change in river stage on a real-time basis, which can help indicate the severity and immediacy of the threat. Knowledge about the type of storm producing the moisture, such as duration, intensity and areal extent, which can be...

What are the two types of floods?

There are two basic types of floods: flash floods and the more widespread river floods. Flash floods generally cause greater loss of life and river floods generally cause greater loss of property. A flash flood occurs when runoff from excessive rainfall causes a rapid rise in the water height (stage) of a stream or normally-dry channel. Flash...
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Date published: August 29, 2019

Throughout Hurricane Season, USGS Science is There Before, During and After the Storm

When a major storm threatens to make landfall in the United States or its territories, the USGS provides comprehensive scientific capabilities and information that decision makers, emergency responders and communities can use to help them prepare, cope and recover from a storm.

Date published: October 9, 2018

USGS: Hurricane surge likely to erode 75% of Florida Panhandle beaches

One-fourth of Florida Panhandle beachfront could be inundated by large storm waves, experts predict

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Michael, visit the USGS Hurricane Michael page at https://usgs.gov/hurricane-michael

 

Date published: July 9, 2018

Post-Harvey Report Provides Inundation Maps and Flood Details on “Largest Rainfall Event Recorded in US History”

Nineteen inundation maps and detailed flood information from Hurricane Harvey are now available from the U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Hurricane Harvey was the most significant rainfall event in U.S. history, both in scope and peak rainfall amounts, since records began in the 1880s.

Date published: October 5, 2017

Scientists Ground Truth What Influences Hurricanes

Scientists looked back 10 to 13 thousand years to gain real-world insight into the environmental factors that influence hurricanes near Florida and, by extension, the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.

Date published: March 14, 2016

EarthWord – Storm Tide

Storm tides is the combination of storm surge, which is water that has been pushed by a storm, with the regularly occurring tides.

Date published: August 20, 2013

Remapping Coastal Areas Damaged by Hurricane Sandy

Plans for remapping parts of the East Coast where Hurricane Sandy altered seafloors and shorelines, destroyed buildings, and disrupted millions of lives last year are being announced today by three federal agencies. This remapping plan comes one day after the Administration's Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force progress report.

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Image shows a USGS scientist in a PDF taking a high-water mark
September 11, 2017

Taking a High-Water Mark after Hurricane Harvey

USGS scientist Steve Hannes marks high water marks along the Colorado River after flooding from Hurricane Harvey in Wharton County, Texas.

Two men mark a high-water mark on a structure
August 26, 2016

USGS Scientists Mark a High-Water Mark in Louisiana

Daniel McCay and Chris Henry, USGS hydrologic technicians, use a level to draw a line on a high-water mark August 26. In most circumstances, when a high-water mark is flagged it would then be surveyed with GPS equipment to obtain its exact coordinates and elevation. However, because of the possibility of more storms hitting Louisiana the teams were initially only

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Louisiana, Post-Hurricane Katrina, 2005
August 23, 2016

Louisiana, Post-Hurricane Katrina, 2005

Louisiana, Post-Hurricane Katrina, 2005

Hurricane Ike storm surge: Sept. 2008
April 27, 2016

Hurricane Ike storm surge: Sept. 2008

Hurricane Ike storm surge: Sept. 2008 (Photo: NOAA)

homes damaged by hurricane Sandy on Fire Island, New York
April 11, 2016

Many ocean-front homes on Fire Island, New York, were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

Many ocean-front homes on Fire Island, New York, were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

Image: Surveying High-Water Marks after Hurricane Sandy
January 18, 2013

Surveying High-Water Marks after Hurricane Sandy

USGS hydrologist Michael Noll surveying a high-water mark on Ellis Island, New York.

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Image: Surveying High-Water Marks after Hurricane Sandy
January 18, 2013

Surveying High-Water Marks after Hurricane Sandy

USGS hydrologic technician Amy Simonson surveying a high-water mark on Liberty Island, New York.

Attribution: Natural Hazards
Image: Storm Surge Sensor During Hurricane Irene
August 26, 2011

Storm Surge Sensor During Hurricane Irene

During hurricanes the USGS deploys storm-surge monitoring instruments along the coasts, sounds, and bays in impacted areas to gauge how high hurricanes push water in rivers, bays and other areas. The sensors are crucial for forecasting future storms and assessing hurricane damage. They are strapped to structures expected to survive the storm, such as bridge piers, light

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Attribution: Natural Hazards
Image: Storm Surge Sensor During Hurricane Irene
August 26, 2011

Storm Surge Sensor During Hurricane Irene

During hurricanes the USGS deploys storm-surge monitoring instruments along the coasts, sounds, and bays in impacted areas to gauge how high hurricanes push water in rivers, bays and other areas. The sensors are crucial for forecasting future storms and assessing hurricane damage. They are strapped to structures expected to survive the storm, such as bridge piers, light

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Attribution: Natural Hazards