The Journal of Coastal Research recently published an article by Robert S. Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines and professor of coastal geology, and Katie McDowell Peek, coastal research scientist, titled “Understanding the Controls on Storm Surge through the Building of a National Storm Surge Database.”
The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University built a publicly accessible national storm surge database that is comprehensive, queriable and provides a central location for storm surge and high water-mark data. The national database contains more than 5,800 storm surge data points from 42 hurricanes and information such as storm track, wind speed, central pressure and storm diameter.
Information in the database is intended to assist with storm surge prediction and with educating coastal residents, emergency planners and developers about past storm surge flood levels in order to lead to more responsible coastal development and hurricane preparedness.
In the report’s conclusions, a preliminary analysis of the storm characteristics and surge data show no significant relationship between surge height and Saffir-Simpson scale category of storm.
“This suggests that this way of categorizing storms should not be used for storm surge prediction or communicating surge threat to the public,” said McDowell and Young in the report’s conclusions. “Only pressure at landfall shows a significant relationship with surge height. It is clear from these analysis that multiple factors likely control surge heights during a storm, including storm track and geomorphologic features.”