6.1 Bridging Gaps in Coastal Hazard Communication: Color-Indexed Elevation Maps for Flood Vulnerable Coastal Communities in Western Alaska

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 8:45 AM
Room 333-334 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Aimee Fish, NOAA/NWS, Anchorage, AK; and N. Kinsman, T. Tschetter, and R. L. Thoman Jr.

Fall storms in western Alaska can have devastating impacts on coastal communities. Remoteness and the lack of seasonal daylight require multiple days for emergency preparations, including the potential for costly evacuations. Effectively communicating expected hazards and risk is paramount.

During the 2011 November Bering Sea Superstorm and a series of storms in November 2013, the National Weather Service could only give qualitative guidance to most of the impacted communities. Where specific water level guidance was available, communicating the impact and meaning of various data proved an immense challenge.

Knowing true coastal storm surge inundation maps are many years away for this region, the National Weather Service (NOAA) teamed up with the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, 5 communities and the State Emergency Operations Center to develop a coastal storm communication tool pilot project. Employing familiar basemaps, best available elevation data, and community relevant reference points, a platform for two-way storm surge dialog was created.

This presentation will describe the pilot project, the collaboration and data partners pulled together, and the next steps as we work to improve coastal storm surge forecast and warning communication in this extremely vulnerable region.

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