NOAA Sentinels Help Protect Our Coasts

Sentinel watching over the coast.

NOAA Sentinel watching over the coast.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

America’s coastal communities are vulnerable to a wide range of hazards, including hurricanes, tsunamis, and shoreline erosion. To help reduce the effects of these hazards and provide critical information during severe coastal storms, NOAA has installed four large hurricane-hardened, water-level stations, called “NOAA’s Sentinels of the Coast,” to measure storm tides off the Gulf coast of Mississippi and Louisiana.

These yellow, 25-foot-tall “NOAA Sentinels” are loaded with sensors that collect information on water level, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure, and air and water temperatures. This information helps coastal authorities prepare for, mitigate, and respond to storm tides generated by severe coastal events. The data also helps provide more accurate marine weather and flood forecasts, evacuation planning and execution, and facilitates the reopening of ports after storms pass.

Monitoring Coastal Areas

Elevated atop substantial single pile platforms, these four-foot wide stations are specifically designed to withstand Category 4 hurricane winds up to 155 miles per hour. The strengthened stations ensures that observation data will be available when the information is needed most.

Sentinel locations.


Sentinel locations in the Gulf.

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The Sentinels send all the data they collect by satellite to a facility on Wallops Island, on the eastern shore of Virginia. The data are then forwarded to NOAA's headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. for quality control inspection, before being shared with the world on the Web site.

The location of the NOAA Sentinels were selected based on two objectives: re-establish water-level monitoring stations either destroyed or heavily damaged by recent hurricanes and establish new stations in other critical areas. NOAA Sentinels were constructed at Shell Beach, La.; Bay Waveland, Miss.; Amerada Pass, La.; and Calcasieu Pass, La.

For More Information

NOAA Sentinels are operated by the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. CO-OPS’ mission is to turn operational oceanographic data into meaningful information for the nation. To access NOAA’s real-time water-level, currents, and meteorological data, as well as background information on CO-OPS products and services, visit the CO-OPS Web site. NOAA logo.