Hurricane or Tropical Storm, Sandy packs a punch

As Hurricane Sandy approaches the Mid-Atlantic coast of the US, it is creating major concerns for prolonged heavy rain and a significant storm surge with the potential for serious flooding and beach erosion. The unfortunate coincidence of a full moon on Monday exacerbates high tides and will only add to the potential for coastal flooding.

The ability to predict flooding from storms like Sandy will be improved by work being undertaken by the US Geological Survey.

The USGS is installing more than 150 storm-tide sensors at key locations along the Atlantic Coast — from the Chesapeake Bay to Massachusetts — in advance of the arrival of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy.

Working with various partner agencies such as NOAA, FEMA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the USGS is securing the storm-tide sensors, frequently called storm-surge sensors, to piers and poles in areas where the storm is expected to make landfall. The instruments being installed will record the precise time the storm-tide arrived, how ocean and inland water levels changed during the storm, the depth of the storm-tide throughout the event, and how long it took for the water to recede.

“In the hours and days before Irene made its epic sweep up the eastern seaboard last year, USGS deployed a record number of storm-surge sensors that yielded important new information on storm tides along some of the most populated coastline in the United States,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Now with Sandy we have the opportunity to test and improve predictive models of coastal zone impact based on what we previously learned.”

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