Climate Change Effects on Flooding During Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast US coastline in 2012. In New York City, it caused power outages that affected nearly 2 million people, forced evacuations of 6500 patients from hospitals and nursing homes, prevented 1.1 million children from attending school for a week, and disrupted the daily travel of about 11 million commuters. Many of these impacts were related to flooding of critical infrastructure, including nearly 90,000 buildings, and more than $5 billion in damages in the mass transit system. The maximum observed water level at the tidal gauge located at the southern tip of Manhattan was 5.3 m above the station datum and 2.8 m above the expected tide. This additional water, known as storm surge, was pushed from the open sea by strong winds during the storm. Sandy was one of several recent storms to cause flooding along the US Gulf and Atlantic coasts, including Katrina and Rita (2005), Gustav and Ike (2008), Irene (2011), Isaac (2012), and Hermine and Matthew (2016). Climatic changes are causing these storms to be larger and more intense, last longer, and move farther northward. Their impacts will be more severe to communities in coastal regions in the future.

JC Dietrich (2018). “Vignette: Climate Change Effects on Flooding During Hurricane Sandy.” Disaster Epidemiology: Methods and Applications, Academic Press, JA Horney, ed., 153-156, DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-809318-4.00020-4.

Real-Time Forecasting and Visualization of Hurricane Waves and Storm Surge Using SWAN+ADCIRC and FigureGen

IMA2013Storm surge due to hurricanes and tropical storms can result in significant loss of life, property damage, and long-term damage to coastal ecosystems and landscapes. Computer modeling of storm surge is useful for two primary purposes: forecasting of storm impacts for response planning, particularly the evacuation of vulnerable coastal populations; and hindcasting of storms for determining risk, development of mitigation strategies, coastal restoration, and sustainability. Model results must be communicated quickly and effectively, to provide context about the magnitudes and locations of the maximum waves and surges in time for meaningful actions to be taken in the impact region before a storm strikes.

In this paper, we present an overview of the SWAN+ADCIRC modeling system for coastal waves and circulation. We also describe FigureGen, a graphics program adapted to visualize hurricane waves and storm surge as computed by these models. The system was applied recently to forecast Hurricane Isaac (2012) as it made landfall in southern Louisiana. Model results are shown to be an accurate warning of the impacts of waves and circulation along the northern Gulf coastline, especially when communicated to emergency managers as geo-referenced images.

JC Dietrich, CN Dawson, JM Proft, MT Howard, G Wells, JG Fleming, RA Luettich Jr, JJ Westerink, Z Cobell, M Vitse, H Lander, BO Blanton, CM Szpilka, JH Atkinson (2013). “Real-Time Forecasting and Visualization of Hurricane Waves and Storm Surge Using SWAN+ADCIRC and FigureGen.Computational Challenges in the Geosciences, The IMA Volumes in Mathematics and its Applications, 156, 49-70, DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-7434-0_3.