MARACOOS partners improve storm surge forecasts for NY City and the Hudson River

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A new two-year research project to create better storm surge forecasts for New York City and its surrounding region will start this February. Based on the findings of a recent paper by Di Liberto et al published by the American Meteorological Society, two of the operational storm surge models that provide guidance to the National Weather Service (NWS/MDL’s Extratropical Surge guidance and Stevens Institute of Technology’s Storm Surge Warning System, SSWS; ) will combine their predictions with the Stony Brook storm surge model to create an ensemble forecast that is expected to predict coastal flooding more accurately than any individual model.

In the meantime, a highly-leveraged partnership between Stevens Institute of Technology, the Hudson River Environmental Conditions Observing System, the USGS and NOAA has led to the expansion of storm surge forecasts all along the 150 miles of the tidal Hudson River, from NYC to Albany. The total water level predictions created by the Stevens Institute’s system account both for oceanic storm surges traveling upriver as well as for rainfall/runoff coming down from the Hudson’s upstream watersheds. Flooding predicted by the system is displayed in its website (www.stevens.edu/SSWS; above Figure), and forecast water levels for stations around New York are sent four times a day to NWS’s Community Hydrologic Prediction System (CHPS) to inform NWS forecasters from the Upton Weather Forecast Office and the Northeast River Forecast Center (NERFC) about potential flooding. Mr. Ed Capone, Service Coordination Hydrologist at NERFC, says the SSWS forecasts appear to be especially valuable when wind and surge effects are critically near flood stage.