Preparedness & Recovery

New Interactive Storm-Surge Map Helps Residents See Potential Flood Risks

NOAA’s Experimental Storm Surge Simulator shows a street-level view of where water could rise in a storm surge.

by Erin Moody, The Island Packet / April 7, 2015
This is a static example of the experimental Potential Storm Surge Inundation Map. (NOAA)

(TNS) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is testing a new feature that lets people get a look at what kind of damage and storm surges are possible, and using Charleston, S.C., for the preliminary model.

The Experimental Storm Surge Simulator shows a street-level view of where water could rise in a storm surge.

"Surveys of the public show there is still a consistent misunderstanding of what the storm surge is, and how deadly it can be," reads the introduction to the app. "In part this is due to the challenge scientists encounter in trying to simplify the complex physics of hurricanes for the public, and in part this is due to poor misunderstanding of flood zone maps that represent the flooding scenario as it might be viewed from above."

The simulator places blue boxes on photographs of Charleston landmarks to show what could happen based on hurricane strength and tide.

People are asked to take a survey before and after using the simulator to help the NWS determine its effectiveness.

"Before you play with the model, we first need to point out that the model is very crude at this point and has many inherent uncertainties that make the displays uncertain," the instructions caution. "Do not make any life decisions based on the model because the projected water level could be quite different from reality."

The simulation is only one of several tools released by NOAA and other agencies in recent years to show the impact of flooding and storm surges.

NOAA released an aerial map in November showing the potential impact of storm surges. Climate Central, a New Jersey-based climate research group published a map and report in July about sea rise and flooding.

©2015 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.