Calculating storm surge return periods for coastal locations on the Gulf of Mexico
Hal Needham, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Coastal flooding from storm surge creates natural disasters that are among the most deadly and costly to impact the United States. The most extreme of these events have occurred along the Gulf of Mexico. Examples of such disasters include the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, which claimed more than 6,000 lives, and Hurricane Katrina, the damage from which totaled more than 80 billion U.S. dollars. Storm surge, however, remains poorly understood by both coastal populations and the scientific research community. Lives and property are endangered as coastal populations underestimate the threat of surge inundations, which are both localized and complex in nature. Meanwhile, storm surge modeling remains a frontier in meteorology and oceanography, as surge forecasting models are commonly inaccurate. A noticeable lack of research on historical surge events and statistical frequencies of extreme water levels hinders the improvement of both public education and scientific research. This research constructs storm surge climatology for the Gulf Coast through the creation of a 130-year surge database, for the period 1880-2009. The database identifies the maximum storm surge height and location for 240 storm surge events. This data is utilized to calculate 2-year, 5-year, 10-year, 25-year, 50-year, and 100-year return periods of specific water level heights in surge events.
Session 1C, Tropical Cyclones at Landfall
Monday, 10 May 2010, 8:30 AM-9:45 AM, Arizona Ballroom 10-12
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