The Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier will be part of a nationwide scientific data gathering effort. The Santa Rosa Island Authority Administrative Committee at their July 13 meeting approved the U.S. Geological Survey’s request to attach water level monitoring sensors and radar on the Pier just prior to major storm events. The equipment would be removed after the storm passes.
Nearly every year during hurricane season U.S. Gulf and Atlantic coastal communities are threatened by large storms, which can inflict flooding, erosion, coastal breaching and destruction of property and infrastructure. Over the last decade, research efforts led to improved forecasts of hurricane intensity and track offshore, however there is still uncertainty in predictions of impacts at the coast, due to insufficient data and observations to validate the models. The “Predicting Hurricane Coastal Impacts” project (https://nopphurricane.sofarocean.com), sponsored by the Office of Naval Research on behalf of the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, was developed to address this research need and is comprised of scientists working to forecast and measure major storms during the 2022-2024 hurricane seasons.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is working with National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wave modelers and Sofar Ocean, developers of a global wave buoy network, to collect observations of water levels and waves during major storm events. Measurements will be made in shore-perpendicular transects, spanning nearshore waters and across the beach and inland, to document the evolution of storm and flooding conditions. Building upon their expertise in coastal storm flood monitoring, the USGS will install a series of radar and pressure sensors on piers, open beaches, buildings and along streets. The data will be available from the project website and the Flood Event Viewer (usgs.gov).
A team of USGS field technicians would install and activate the sensors ahead of a storm. The data, which is being collected to support the “Predicting Hurricane Coastal Impacts” project, will be posted online at https://stn.wim.usgs.gov/fev/. The monitoring project will continue through November 2024.