Yucatán Hurricane Hazard Assessment: A GIS Methodology for Modeling Hurricane Hazards

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 2:00 PM
130 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Amanda M. Weigel, Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and R. Griffin
Manuscript (464.5 kB)

The Yucatán region is comprised of Belize, portions of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, with coastlines bordering the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean, and Caribbean Sea. This region has an active tropical history of being hit by devastating storms including Hurricane Dean in 2007, Iris in 2001, Keith in 2000, and Mitch in 1998. These storms among many caused record breaking flooding and high winds that devastated areas by displacing millions, causing millions of dollars in damages, and killing thousands of people. Unfortunately, the Yucatán lacks detailed data from predictive hurricane models necessary for identifying areas at greatest risk of experiencing hazards brought on by hurricanes. This presentation will present methods utilizing a geographic information system (GIS) to assess the risk a given area has of experiencing hurricane hazards based on land falling hurricane occurring from 1970 to 2011. The ability of GIS to handle various layer components makes it optimal to combine physical and environmental parameters necessary for mapping vulnerable areas. For this analysis, high winds, storm surge flooding, non-storm surge related flooding, and rainfall triggered landslides were selected as primary hurricane hazards for the study area. Data sets used for this analysis include the National Climatic Data Center International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardships (IBTrACS) hurricane tracks, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission Digital Elevation Model, WorldClim monthly accumulated precipitation, USGS HydroSHEDS river locations, and the Harmonized World Soil Database soil types. ArcGIS and ENVI software were utilized to process data and model hurricane hazards. To asses locations at risk of experiencing high winds, a model was created using ArcGIS Model Builder to map each storm's temporal wind profile. This model was adapted to assess the frequency and velocity areas have been hit by hurricanes needed to identify locations prone to rainfall and flood related hazards. By combining modeled results with physical land characteristics, meteorological, and hydrologic data, this analysis found the western side of the peninsula, primarily coastal Belize and Mexico, at greatest risk of experiencing wind and flood related hurricane hazards. The presented methodology provides a novel and detailed approach to utilizing GIS for hurricane hazard mapping that is adoptable to more detailed datasets. Methods developed from this research can be applied towards refining current hazard mapping techniques, and provide an avenue for areas lacking detailed predictive modeling capabilities to assess risk.