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September 5, 2017

To learn more about USGS’ role providing science to decision makers before, during and after Hurricane Irma, visit the USGS Hurricane Irma page.

Storm-tide sensor installed to a concrete post in Puerto Rico prio to Hurricane Irma.
This U.S. Geological Survey Storm-Tide Sensor was one of nine sensors deployed around Puerto Rico prior to Hurricane Irma. USGS photo. (Public domain.)

Hurricane response crews from the U.S. Geological Survey have installed storm-tide sensors at key locations along the northeast shores of Puerto Rico in advance of Hurricane Irma. Under a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the USGS deployed nine sensors.

These storm-tide sensors, housed in vented steel pipes a few inches wide and about a foot long, were installed on bridges, piers, and other structures that have a good chance of surviving a storm surge during a hurricane. The information they collect will help define the depth and duration of a storm-surge, as well as the time of its arrival and retreat. That information will help public officials assess storm damage, discern between wind and flood damage, and improve computer models used to forecast future floods. As the storm approaches and passes the island, information on the storm-tide sensor deployment and the incoming data will be available on the USGS “Flood Event Viewer” at

Storm-surges are increases in ocean water levels generated at sea by extreme storms and can have devastating coastal impacts. While direct impacts are possible in Puerto Rico later this week, tropical storm or hurricane conditions could also affect portions of the mainland as the storm progresses.

The USGS studies the impacts of hurricanes and tropical storms to better understand potential impacts on coastal areas. Information provided through the sensor networks provides critical data for more accurate modeling and prediction capabilities and allows for improved structure designs and response for public safety.

As the USGS continues to take all appropriate preparedness and response actions in response to Hurricane Irma, those ­­­in the storm’s projected path can visit  or  for tips on creating emergency plans and putting together an emergency supply kit.

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