A storm surge database for the US Gulf Coast

Authors

  • Hal F. Needham,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University
    • Department of Geography and Anthropology, Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.
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  • Barry D. Keim

    1. Louisiana State Climatologist, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University,
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Abstract

Tropical cyclone-generated storm surges are among the most deadly and costly natural disasters to impact the United States. Unfortunately, no comprehensive storm surge dataset provides reliable, historical storm surge information for the United States. This paper introduces SURGEDAT, the first comprehensive surge database for the US Gulf Coast. SURGEDAT identifies the location and height of peak storm surge for 195 surge events since 1880. A total of 62 sources were utilized to construct this dataset, including 28 Federal Government sources, numerous academic publications, and more than 3000 pages of newspaper from 16 daily periodicals. Surge heights in this database range from Hurricane Katrina's 8.47 m surge to 1.22 m surges generated by 20 separate events. Spatial analysis reveals enhanced surge magnitudes and frequencies along the Central and Western Gulf Coast, as well as the Florida Keys, while reduced levels of surge activity were observed along the eastern Florida Panhandle and the West Coast of Florida. The methods utilized to create this database are thoroughly documented, a table provides the comprehensive list of surges, and a map provides the spatial distribution of peak surge events. SURGEDAT will be valuable to coastal stakeholders, including planners and emergency managers, coastal scientists, and the hurricane and storm surge research communities. Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society

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