What if a Surge Similar to "Sandy" Affected Washington DC?

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015
127ABC (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jason C. Elliott, NOAA/NWS, Sterling, VA

Handout (1008.6 kB)

Superstorm Sandy impacted the northeastern United States in late October 2012. The record-setting storm surge which affected New York City and surrounding areas made worldwide headlines, with images of the subway system filled with water and parts of lower Manhattan flooded. The storm raised awareness in all coastal areas about the potential for extreme storm surge events, and brought to the forefront the question, “What if this happened here?”

It has now been more than a decade since the last significant surge event affecting Washington, DC. Knowledge of the flood threat in such a high-profile area is vital for preparedness, planning and coordination. This study addresses this issue by superimposing the level of surge observed in Sandy in the New York City area onto an elevation model covering Washington, DC. An analysis of areas affected in such a surge is also presented, along with historical perspective comparing this scenario to other previous and potential events affecting the District of Columbia.