New online tool helps communities prepare for coastal flooding

Coastal Inundation Dashboard brings water level data from over 200 coastal stations to your desktop
June 7, 2019 If you live along the coast, flooding can endanger lives, property, businesses, and even bring communities and commerce to a standstill. To help people prepare for and manage the effects of coastal flooding, NOAA has brought together data from its over 200 coastal water level stations into one easy-to-use web tool.
High tide flooding often occurs during so-called "supermoons," when the Moon comes closest to the Earth in its elliptic orbit. The supermoon of Dec. 14, 2016 caused moderate flooding on the streets of Charleston, S.C.

The Coastal Inundation Dashboard brings together real-time water level information, 48-hour forecasts of water levels, storm surge and historic flooding information into one online tool to help decision makers as well as coastal residents understand both short-term risks such as an approaching hurricane or nor’easter, as well as longer-term risks like high tide flooding and sea level rise. Boaters and fishermen can even use the tool to get their latest local tides.  

“The Coastal Inundation Dashboard, like OceanReports and other National Ocean Service online tools, brings vast amounts of NOAA’s data together to benefit businesses and communities that drive our nation’s blue economy,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “In one easy to use and comprehensive website, local emergency managers and coastal communities can more easily monitor water levels and make decisions before, during and after a storm to ensure they are more resilient to coastal flooding.”  

As Hurricane Michael approached the U.S. in October 2018, a prototype of the Coastal Inundation Dashboard displayed its effects on coastal water levels along the Florida panhandle.
As Hurricane Michael approached the U.S. in October 2018, a prototype of the Coastal Inundation Dashboard displayed its effects on coastal water levels along the Florida panhandle. (NOAA)

There are a few common sources of coastal inundation – water that is above normally dry ground as a result of flooding – including abnormally high tides, storm surge and persistent onshore winds and waves. In rivers and tidal estuaries, water runoff from excessive rainfall can provide another source of inundation.

If water rises above a certain level determined by the National Ocean Service or local NOAA National Weather Service weather forecast offices for a particular station, the Coastal Inundation Dashboard will show whether there may be minor flooding with a low risk of property damage, moderate flooding with threats to property and life, or major flooding with a significant risk to life and property.

The ability to monitor water levels in the path of a tropical storm, hurricane or nor’easter in real-time is particularly important given the potentially significant threats to life and property. NOAA’s popular Storm QuickLook information product will also be made available through this new tool. The latest tropical cyclone track forecast and areas under active NWS coastal flood advisories and storm surge watches or warnings will automatically be displayed on top of the real-time flood information.  

The Coastal Inundation Dashboard and QuickLook are brought to you by NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, the authoritative source for accurate, reliable and timely water level and current measurements that support safe and efficient maritime commerce, sound coastal management and recreation, and promote robust, resilient coastal communities.

Jerry Slaff, 240-533-0935