Hurricane center pushes to improve storm surge warnings
MIAMI — Friday marks the end of an Atlantic-Caribbean hurricane season in which the greatest devastation was caused by water rather than wind, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said.
Accordingly, the center is ramping up efforts to develop warnings that better convey the threat from the deadly storm surge pushed ashore by monsters like Sandy, which slammed the Northeast in October.
“We've been working toward a new storm surge warning for a few years now,” Knabb said at the hurricane center in Miami.
Starting with a meeting next week, the forecasters will review their warning systems and speed development of a separate warning system for storm surge in hopes of having an experimental version ready to test in the next couple of years, he said.
It will include a high-resolution graphic showing how high the surge would grow and how far inland it would reach at various times. Storm surge rarely correlates neatly with wind strength, Knabb said.
“Hurricane-force winds and storm surge doesn't always occur in the same places or at the same times when a storm approaches,” he said. “Where the storm surge occurs is very dependent upon details of the coastline and the elevations and all that.”
The United States is increasingly at risk from storm surge. Much of its densely populated Atlantic and gulf coastlines lie less than 10 feet above sea level, and the seas are gradually rising as the Earth warms and ice caps and glaciers melt.
At the same time, the population in the hurricane region is growing rapidly. From 1990-2008, population density increased by 32 percent in Gulf coastal counties, 17 percent in Atlantic coastal counties, and 16 percent in Hawaii, according to the 2010 Census.
Much of the nation's commerce depends on seaports and the transit systems that link to them.
Improving the storm surge warning system not only could help tailor evacuation orders as a storm approaches, it could help homeowners, business owners and governments know where and how to fortify before the next season comes.
“We can't hope that it doesn't happen again ... because it will. It's just a matter of when, not if,” Knabb said.
Superstorm Sandy highlighted the need for more flexible warnings and greater focus on storm surge.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Chattanooga places bet on allure of high-speed Internet
- Former Virginia Gov. McDonnell asks judge for leniency in public corruption conviction
- Penalty for assault on cruise ship passenger by room service attendant up to judge
- Slain New York City police Officer Ramos mourned at funeral as tensions linger
- Syria may agree to peace talks
- States seek child molestation suspect’s extradition to Wyoming
- Food hubs offer alternative to farmers’ markets, grocery stores
- Private firm SpaceX rebuilding Kennedy Space Center launch site
- DNA service sniffs out dog owners who don’t clean up after their pets
- Judge wants insurer files in Superstorm Sandy lawsuit
- Police officer, suspect killed in shootout on Arizona street