Storm Modeling Helps First Responders

Over the past several years, severe storm surges, flooding and other life-threatening phenomena have affected coastal communities in myriad ways. When weather systems threaten the coast, emergency responders rely on high-precision storm modeling systems and real-time data to accurately predict hurricane activity and flooding threats, collaborate with each other, and make critical decisions that will protect the lives and property of millions of U.S. residents.

During the 2018 hurricane season, as Hurricanes Florence and Michael blew toward the Carolinas and the Florida panhandle, respectively, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) were using a suite of early-warning technologies and storm-modeling software to inform their operations and responses both before and after the hurricanes made landfall. This suite of tools, better known as the ADCIRC Prediction System (APS), played an integral role in accurately predicting the storm surges, flooding, wind and wave interactions, and speed of tides and currents associated with both Florence and Michael.

APS uses modeling technology with a 30-year track record of providing accurate representations of coastal water movement, flooding and storm impacts. The system was developed and is operated by the Coastal Resilience Center, a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in partnership with Jackson State University in Mississippi, and funded by the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T).

APS consists of three components: Advanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) Storm Surge Model , a high-resolution, high-precision storm surge/coastal flood model; the ADCIRC Surge Guidance System, a software infrastructure that automates ADCIRC for operational deployments; and the Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment web portal, which makes model output readily available to end-users.

APS data have been used by both federal responders (e.g., USCG, FEMA, NOAA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), state emergency management offices and local community leaders to get ahead of storms and protect lives and property. 

To learn more about APS, visit the website or contact the program directly.

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