Sunday, 5 October 2008
George R. Brown Convention Center, Exhibit Hall E
Researchers of hurricane impacts often encounter roadblocks when trying to evaluate storm surge history. The National Hurricane Center's Tropical Cyclone Reports contain comprehensive information on each storm, including synoptic history, meteorological statistics, casualties and damages, and the post-analysis best track (six-hourly positions and intensities) dating back only to 1958. Several federal agencies (FEMA, NOAA, Army Corps of Engineers) have unpublished reports for some storms but not for all. Older hurricanes may have public or private reports. Access to reports is difficult and even for archived storms the data is often sketchy at best. For early hurricanes a combination of lack of understanding of the importance, lack of reliable surveying devices, and the overwhelming need to concentrate on rescue and recovery efforts probably led to poor storm surge data. For more recent hurricanes, very precise storm surge measurements are available, but often there aren't enough of them, they are unreliable, estimated, or in error. Detailed reports of measurement methodology are often are lacking. Measurements from the fringes of the hurricane landfall area often are not made at all because of lower damages in these areas, and the deeming of such data as unimportant. A georeferenced database has been created of all storm surge measurements from Hurricane Opal (1995) that will serve as a model of future work to tabulate storm surge data for as many southeastern U.S.A. hurricane as possible. All data are evaluated for quality, methodology, and usefulness for scientific inquiry. Links are established to reports, photos, and other pertinent documents. It is hoped that the database will provide the basis for statistical evaluation of the various factors impacting coastal storm surge. In addition, it will be a critical resource for numerical modelers who are in need of such data for model calibration and verification of predictive coastal flooding models.