USGS Deploying Storm-tide Sensors in Louisiana, Mississippi in Advance of Hurricane Ida

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To learn more about USGS’s role in providing science to decision-makers before, during and after Hurricane Ida, visit www.usgs.gov/ida.

As Hurricane Ida heads for the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Geological Survey scientists are in the field installing up to 23 storm-tide sensors along the Louisiana and Mississippi coasts to help track the storm’s effects. Ida could potentially cause significant flooding and coastal erosion, particularly in southeast coastal Louisiana, which includes New Orleans.

Six scientists from the USGS Lower Mississippi Gulf Water Science Center are installing up to 20 storm-tide sensors along the Louisiana coast between Holly Beach and Slidell, and three sensors in southwest Mississippi from Pearlington to Pascagoula. The crews will be installing most of the sensors Friday. The remaining sensors will be installed Saturday morning before the storm’s estimated Sunday landfall.

Sunday also marks 16 years to the day since Hurricane Katrina, one of the most destructive and costliest storms in U.S. history, made its Louisiana landfall.  

Video Transcript

USGS Storm Tide Sensors are specialized scientific instruments used to measure the depth and duration of storm surge during coastal storms. The data these sensors collect before, during and after a storm will help public officials assess storm damage, and improve computer models used to forecast storm surge and coastal change. FEMA and other federal, state and local agencies also use this data to steer relief efforts by pinpointing the areas hardest hit by storm tide flooding.

Jacob Massey, Office of Communications and Publishing

(Public domain.)

Storm tides are increases in ocean water levels caused by extreme storms and include the storm generated surge plus local tide increases. They are among the most dangerous natural hazards associated with hurricanes. Storm tides can destroy homes and businesses, wipe out roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and significantly alter coastal landscapes. 

USGS storm-tide sensors collect information that helps fine-tune future storm surge and coastal change forecasts and guide recovery efforts, plan evacuation routes, identify areas hardest hit by storm surge, and improve structure designs to increase public safety. Local, state and federal officials can use the information collected by the USGS storm-tide sensors to inform decisions that help protect lives and property.

The storm tide sensors are housed in vented steel pipes a few inches wide and range from about a foot to several feet long. They are installed on bridges, piers, and other structures that have a good chance of surviving the storm. Incoming data will be available on the USGS Flood Event Viewer: https://stn.wim.usgs.gov/FEV/#2021TropicalCycloneIda.

Ida is currently a Category 1 hurricane but the National Hurricane Center currently expects the storm to intensify as it crosses the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall.

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