USGS Deploying Storm Tide Sensors From NY to MA for Hurricane Henri

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As Hurricane Henri approaches the Northeastern U.S., field crews from the U.S. Geological Survey are installing up to 62 storm tide sensors that will track the hurricane’s effects along the Atlantic coast. The sensors are being installed from Long Island, New York, to Cape Cod, Massachusetts; the exact number is dependent on several factors, including weather and road conditions.

Video Transcript

USGS Storm Tide Sensors are specialized scientific instruments used to measure the depth and duration of storm surge during coastal storms. Video by Jacob Massey, Office of Communications and Publishing. (Public domain.)

USGS storm tide sensors provide essential water level and wave data that local, state and federal officials can use to inform decisions that help protect lives and property. Scientists use the information gathered by the sensors to fine-tune future storm surge and coastal change forecasts. The sensor data can also be used to guide recovery efforts, plan evacuation routes, identify areas hardest hit by storm tide flooding, inform building code decisions and improve structure design­­s to increase public safety.

Storm tides are rises in ocean water levels caused by coastal storms and include storm-generated surge plus local tide increases. Storm tides are among the most dangerous natural hazards unleashed by hurricanes and tropical storms and experts are predicting some areas in Henri’s path could get life threatening storm tide flooding. They can destroy homes and businesses; wipe out roads, bridges, water and sewer systems; and profoundly alter coastal landscapes. The storm tide sensors being deployed are housed in vented steel pipes a few inches wide and range from about a foot to several feet long. They will be installed on bridges, piers, and other structures that have a good chance of surviving the storm.

Twenty-one scientists from the USGS’s New England Water Science Center are planning to install between 35 and 50 storm-tide sensors along the Connecticut and Rhode Island coasts into Massachusetts and around Cape Cod to just south of Boston. They will also be installing one sensor across the Connecticut State line in New York. The USGS’s New York Water Science Center plans to have four scientists in the field installing 12 storm tide sensors along the coast of Long Island. The field crews from both centers will be working until late Saturday to install the sensors at key locations along the coast prior to the storm’s estimated Sunday landfall. They will retrieve the sensors soon after the storm passes.

The USGS Flood Event Viewer for Henri will show the location of the storm tide sensors and the data, once it’s available. The public can also access the USGS’s network of permanent real-time tide gauges through the viewer. In addition to measuring coastal water levels, many of these permanent tide gauges also measure several weather parameters, such as wind speed, wind direction and precipitation.

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