News: Enhancing Storm Surge Visualization

ncsg2017/08/08 – NC Sea Grant Coastwatch Currents
Fast, Accurate Forecasts of Coastal Flooding: Enhancing Visualization of Storm Surge Guidance to Support Emergency Managers

Storm surge models must be both fast and accurate to give coastal communities the guidance they need to prepare for and respond to a storm. Perhaps just as important is the need for these forecasts to be visualized in a way that is meaningful and useable by emergency managers.

ADCIRC forecasts are currently visualized using Kalpana, a Python script that converts the model output into formats compatible with commonly-used visualization applications such as ArcGIS and Google Earth. With support from the National Consortium of Data Science (NCDS) and in partnership with North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM), our team has developed a new visualization method that makes use of enhanced topographic resolution along the flooding boundary. This results in modeled storm surge extending farther into estuaries and floodplains, increasing the accuracy of the forecast.

News: Hurricane Matthew

crc_logo2016/10/17 – DHS CRCoE
Coastal Resilience Center researchers, partners aid in Hurricane Matthew preparation and recovery

Dr. Casey Dietrich of NCSU, whose CRC project focuses on improving the speed of ADCIRC modeling, visited the North Carolina Emergency Management (NCEM) State Emergency Operations Center to see NCEM’s operation and workflow during storm response. Dietrich said emergency managers were excited about the data provided by ADCIRC predictions.

“They are using both the CERA site and the shapefiles we are generating,” Dietrich said. “The shapefiles are being combined manually with other datasets to determine the potential flood damages, in terms of both number and cost of buildings and infrastructure.”

Dietrich said that ADCIRC predictions have compared favorably to post-storm high-water marks and U.S. Geological Survey measurements of storm surge.

“Their comparisons after Hermine showed matches within a foot to the peak water levels,” Dietrich said. “They described ADCIRC as their eyes on the coast.”

Dietrich’s work with ADCIRC to provide more accurate storm surge estimates for North Carolina is also partially funded by the North Carolina Sea Grant and the National Consortium for Data Science.

The CERA website is used during Hurricane Matthew preparations at the NCEM Emergency Operations Center.

The CERA website is used during Hurricane Matthew preparations at the NCEM Emergency Operations Center.

ncsu-engr2016/10/06 – CCEE
Dietrich Aiding Efforts to Forecast Flooding during Hurricane Matthew

As Hurricane Matthew approaches Florida and prepares to move up the U.S. east coast, researchers in North Carolina are running models to forecast the storm surge and coastal flooding. Dr. Casey Dietrich is working with collaborators at the University of North Carolina, the Renaissance Computing Institute, and Seahorse Coastal Consulting to generate and share guidance during the storm. The models are run every 6 hours, and they provide high-resolution forecasts of possible flooding throughout the NC coast. The forecasts can be found at: Dietrich is providing forecast guidance to NC Emergency Management, for use in decisions about evacuation and resource deployment. This real-time forecasting is part of a research project to downscale the model results and provide them in formats tailored to the needs of emergency managers.

Forecast of coastal flooding due to Hurricane Matthew (2016).

Forecast of coastal flooding due to Hurricane Matthew (2016).

Nelson Tull


Master’s Student (Graduate Research Assistant)
Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering
North Carolina State University
Mann Hall, Room 428
2501 Stinson Drive
Raleigh NC 27607

I am a first-year Master’s student in the Coastal and Computational Hydraulics Team at NC State. As an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, I became interested in water resources engineering and numerical modeling. My undergraduate research experience in groundwater modeling and my appreciation of numerical modeling and fluid mechanics led to an opportunity to study coastal and computational hydraulics at NC State.

The North Carolina Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network (FIMAN, is used by NC Emergency Management for decision support regarding flooding. My current research project involves connecting ADCIRC forecast data to the geospatial dataset used by FIMAN for the purpose of providing emergency managers with more accessible and convenient visualization of coastal flooding forecasts in real-time. This involves downscaling the ADCIRC forecast data to meet the resolution of the FIMAN datasets, and examining the impact of such downscaling on forecast accuracy.



North Carolina State University

  • Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering
    • Graduate Research Assistant, Aug. 2016 to Present
    • Teaching Assistant, Aug. 2016 to Present
    • Guest Lecturer, CE 382 Hydraulics, Nov. 14 – Nov. 16

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • Undergraduate Research Assistant (EWRE), Sep. 2015 to May 2016
    • Teaching Assistant, Spring 2015
    • Undergraduate Research Assistant (Transportation), Sep. 2013 to Dec. 2014



B.S., Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, May 2016
  • Summa Cum Laude
  • Commonwealth Honors College Scholar with greatest distinction


Honors and Awards

  • Louis V. Achilles Memorial Scholarship (2016)
  • College of Engineering Scholarship (2013)
  • Chancellor’s Scholarship (2012-2016)


Professional Affiliations

  • American Society of Civil Engineers



  • FE Exam, passed July 2016

Welcome to the CCHT! We develop computational models for wind waves and coastal circulation, and then apply these models to high-resolution simulations of ocean behavior. Our goals are to understand how coastlines are threatened during storms, how materials are transported in the coastal environment, and how to convey these hazard risks for use in decision support. Our research spans the disciplines of coastal engineering, numerical methods, computational mathematics, and high-performance computing.

In this web site, we share our research progress, from development to application, and from coding to publishing. Learn more about What We Do and how to Join Our Team.