USGS Installs Storm-Tide Sensors along Atlantic Coast prior to Hurricane Matthew’s Arrival

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Media interested in going out with USGS field crews deploying sensors please contact:

Florida: Richard Kane,, 813-918-1275 

Georgia: Brian McCallum,, 678- 924-6672

South Carolina: John Shelton,, 803-767-5542

North Carolina: Jeanne Robbins,, 919-571-4017 

Hurricane response crews from the U.S. Geological Survey are installing storm-tide sensors at key locations along the North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida coast in advance of Hurricane Matthew. Under a mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the USGS currently plans to deploy more than 300 sensors and is consulting with federal and state partners about the need for similar equipment for other coastal areas along the mid-Atlantic to New England coast.

These storm-tide sensors, housed in vented steel pipes a few inches wide and about a foot long, are being 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.  You can track the storm-surge sensor deployment and see some of the incoming data via the USGS “Flood 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 Florida later this week, tropical storm or hurricane conditions could also affect portions of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

In addition, rapid deployment gauges will be installed at sites where we do not currently have gauges, but may be impacted by storm surge or floodwaters along critical roadways. These rapid deployment gauges will augment a network of existing U.S. Geological Survey gauging stations already in place before the storm arrives. USGS is coordinating with the National Weather Service and FEMA in placing the rapid deployment gauges to assist with additional forecast points and flood condition situational awareness and post-flood assessments.

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.

The USGS, in cooperation with state and federal agencies, also operates more permanent sensor networks installed along the East Coast of the U.S. These networks provide real-time data important to the National Weather Service, FEMA and other USGS partners involved in issuing flood and evacuation warnings and in coordinating emergency responses to communities.

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