J9.4 Storm Surge Then and Now: Improvements since Hurricane Katrina

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 2:15 PM
Room 344 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Jamie Rhome, NOAA/NHC, Miami, FL; and N. Hardin, W. Booth, C. Forbes, C. L. Fritz, E. Gibney, T. Sharon, and B. C. Zachry

More than 1,500 people lost their lives as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina, the vast majority of which were attributed to storm surge flooding. Storm surge flooding of 24 to 28 ft. was observed along portions of the Mississippi coast, and up to 19 ft. of storm surge overtopped the levees in metro New Orleans. Despite a quantitatively accurate storm surge forecast several days prior to landfall by the National Hurricane Center, the loss of life from Katrina highlighted the need for new products and forecasting techniques to better communicate the storm surge hazard.

The National Weather Service (NWS) has responded to this need over the past decade by improving its numerical modeling techniques, products, and services to more effectively communicate storm surge risk, spatial extent, and magnitude. These improvements have been executed using substantial input from the social science community with the specific goals of improving awareness, understanding, and encouraging appropriate actions that protect against tropical cyclone-induced storm surges within the United States. Collective improvements in the NWS storm surge program since Hurricane Katrina represent a significant upgrade in service to our partners and users, thus enabling the establishment of a Weather-Ready Nation.

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