Determining Hurricane Surge Risk for Public Early Warning


Recent Gulf of Mexico hurricanes, including Katrina (2005) and Ike (2008), caused widespread flooding and some of the highest surges on record, highlighting the public safety need to reliably quantify present and future hurricane flooding risk. A Texas A&M University team led by DOE-sponsored researcher Jennifer Irish have proposed a method for rapidly determining probabilistic maximum hurricane surge both for quantifying accelerating flood risk in light of future climate scenarios and for providing probabilistic forecasts for public early warning. The method is based on surge response functions, available meteorological information, and joint probability statistics. In using this method for Hurricane Ike (Irish et al. 2011), surge along the entire Texas coast prior to landfall were computed in a matter of seconds. Application of this method for evaluating risk posed to power infrastructure under future hurricane climate scenarios enables detailed and accurate assessment of future flood hazard across large regions of coastline by considering thousands of future storm and sea level possibilities.


Irish, J. L., Y. K. Song, and K.-A. Chang. 2011. “Probabilistic Hurricane Surge Forecasting Using Parameterized Surge Response Functions,” Geophysical Research Letters 38, L03606.