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Old 03-17-2019, 10:05 AM
Location: plano
7,081 posts, read 8,793,023 times
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With the ease of determining elevation at any point, does any one forecasting storm surge convert it to elevation above sea level at various expected impacts geographies? I recognize the range needed to capture forecast uncertainty might be wide but still seems useful. Also useful would be pear water elevations historically at various locations? Is this done? Is it possible? Is it practical?
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Old 03-17-2019, 04:19 PM
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Keep in mind storm surge is defined as the height above normal tide level so it's 'base point' is the ever changing low and high tide cycle. Because of this official maps won't have it listed as above sea level. That said, the official map listed below assumes its high tide for flooding planning purposes as that would be near worse-case during a storm surge event and what emergency management officials would be looking at for what to plan for (and should be what you're looking for it sounds like). IE: pretend the normal low tide was 3ft lower then normal high tide level at the docks. And so if a 3ft storm surge came in at low tide then although 3ft of surge is present, the water just ended up at normal high tide level so no flooding. But if it came in at high tide then that same 3ft rise due to surge now may potentially cause a lot of issues for car/home owners & first responders.

What you're probably looking for would be the official National Storm Surge Hazard Map put out starting in November 2014 by the US National Hurricane Center, Storm Surge unit. It covers Texas all the way up to Maine and the November 2018 update added Hawaii, US Virgin Islands, & Hispaniola. The map is based on a combination of data including multiple modeling systems and tens of thousands of computer simulated hurricanes in each grid area. It covers what's considered 'near worse-case scenario' for each category of hurricane (as surge is typically higher as you go up in categories). On the page link below you'll want to click the different category tabs at the top of the web page to see different water heights. It is considered detailed to within neighborhood level meaning you may not see exactly your house but your general immediate area / neighborhood should be view-able. Keep in mind when viewing only 3 Cat5's have ever known to have hit the US. https://noaa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/Ma...935fad&entry=1

The map above is intended for planning purposes. Should an actual storm be approaching the coast this same map style is used but will show the possible worse-case scenario for that particular storm approaching at that particular time and timing of tidal levels. Updates are pushed out 4 times a day or as needed. This map starts being produced around 48 hours prior to landfall. So that's why the first map above is used to plan before a storm arrives, helping predetermine evacuation zones, etc. and the map for the specific storm as it comes toward shore for last minute updates/planning/warnings.

Surge is typically greatest in the NE corner of a hurricane and lower as you get away from that point. The shape of the coast, movement speed and angle the storm is approaching from, and other factors all play a role in what will happen and who sees what. Shallow coast are more susceptible to surge then those with deeper waters just offshore as well.

Sorry for the long post! There's a lot to surge and in the US it accounts for over half of all hurricane related deaths on average. Just posting additional info for others who will read this post as well.
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Old 03-17-2019, 04:47 PM
Location: plano
7,081 posts, read 8,793,023 times
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No appology needed this is precisely what I was hoping exists. I lived in Houston for decades. I intentionally located well west of Galveston Bay and well north of the Gulf at a pretty high elevation for Houston. Where the former home was located had never flooded before Hsrvey. We did not flood from the storm surge or the rainfall back up but were flooded once a 110 feet high corp of engineers dam had to be opened to prevent over flow of the dam and a some what uncontrolled release.

In some parts of Houston, the highest historic water levels are associated with Allison a tropical depression that stalled and dumped rain for 24 hours over parts of the city.

I am considering a move to both inland states and Fla locations. At my age I do not want to be in my home for a flood event and wont where my home is now. But moving needs some science to it to build a comfortable margin to select a location which is to guy a home. For example, I had no idea that fla had some locations around 300 feet above sea level. And a couple of these locations are near cities I would consider.

Inland locations can flood as well not from storm surge but from rainfall and run off. I wont ask you for guidance on data for those location as this is a hurricane thread. But my SUV GPS will give me elevations to within 10 feet or so and I can use that to build in a large margin height wise for locations I consider that are inland.
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Old 03-17-2019, 05:21 PM
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Will mention then that Lake Okeechobee in FL is large enough that during a hurricane it can actually have it's own storm surge. It's not covered by the map above as it's well inland and has some sort of levee system around it now but the 1928 'Lake Okeechobee' hurricane brought that about, you can look up for more info.

When you search for inland flooding info/maps if you see '500-year' or '1,000 year flood events' that's really the chance each year, not every 500 years. So 1 in 500 chance each year of a 500-year flood ,etc. Yes, they are talking about changing the terminology to prevent confusion.

And if you ever wanted to know what a past storm did to an area your're considering then all previous storms are mapped in link below. There's way too many storms listed so to make user friendly I suggest clicking the 'Set on Map' button next to enter location field, then zoom in and click your desired location (can set storms that came within xx miles to desired but default 65 is fine for starting), then when several tracks representing hurricane eye/center appear click on 'Advanced Filters', and un-check the ET, TD, etc as desired to clear things up a bit. List of storms to research is on left. Mouse over a track to highlight them in the list. Colors represent what category it was at time of passing. https://coast.noaa.gov/hurricanes/

Historical averages for how often a hurricane eye/center point return to within 58miles of various points of the coast can also be found here (keep in mind just an average though) https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/#returns

Good luck in your search!
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