The National Hurricane Center is stepping up its warnings about storm surge and will start publishing maps this summer that show where tropical storms are likely to cause flooding along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
E&E News reports that the new storm surge maps will highlight in red the coastal areas that face possible flooding and will show the expected height of the storm surge at numerous locations. The maps are meant to warn the public of a potential danger that is often overlooked as people focus on hurricane wind speeds and likely storm paths.
Many in the floodplain management field see the new maps as a positive step in the right direction as the maps will provide another layer of data to help inform decision-making by citizens and emergency agencies alike and should lead to more accurate evacuation timelines and safer routes.
Tom McDonald, CFM, co-chair of ASFPM’s Coastal Issues Committee, likened hurricane information to an orchestra.
“The more instruments added to the orchestra, the bigger sound,” he said. “Such is the way with new technology and ways of displaying hazards. My hope is that one day we can provide enough hazard information that we can be compared to the 1812 Overture.”
The hurricane center will publish the maps to its webpage roughly 48 hours before hurricane winds or surges are expected to hit. The maps will use data the hurricane center has long collected.