New Look at Irene’s Storm Surge

Yesterday I visited the USGS in East Hartford for a story about the loss of the Middletown river gauge. The loss is unfortunate and like so many other services is a function of shrinking budgets at the municipal, state, and federal level.

While at the East Hartford field office the topic turned to Irene and the fabulous work the USGS did recording data as Irene moved up the coast. With Irene threatening the USGS deployed 203 temporary storm tide sensors to measure Irene’s storm surge inundation. A number of those gauges were deployed in Long Island Sound.

Here are before and after pictures of one of the gauges being deployed near the Town Dock in Guilford.

Courtesy: USGS

Courtesy: USGS

The town dock was essentially destroyed by Irene’s storm surge. The data wasn’t available in real time but is available now for more than a dozen points on the Sound in Connecticut. Here’s a look at the storm surge in Guilford that flooded many coastal areas.

The storm surge here was over 4 feet (not including waves) and quite destructive. The data can now be used to help predict areas that are at risk for inundation in the future by better understanding what happened during Irene.

If you’d like to check the data out here it’s available from the USGS website.


One thought on “New Look at Irene’s Storm Surge

  1. We were down Guilford for their agricultural fair the next weekend. The damage to the town dock area was striking. The car lot pavement was undermined, wavy, and debris-strewn. The nearby cottages had their lawns killed by the saltwater inundation. Impressive even for a “mild” tropical storm. It didn’t deter the fishermen, though.
    It’s a shame about the USGS downsizing their gauge network, especially with the increasing urbanization of our watersheds and coastlines. Climate change figures into this, too. The lack of data could lead to a garbage in, garbage out situation in regards to flood science.

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