A Coastal Flood Monitoring System for Delaware

Project Status

During the last two decades, storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike along the Gulf of Mexico and Floyd and Hugo along the Atlantic Coast of the United States have resulted in significant loss of life, injuries, and property damages exceeding well over 100 billion dollars. Much of the damage associated with these and other tropical and extra-tropical weather systems is associated with severe coastal flooding. The Delaware coastline is extremely vulnerable to such events. A recent example of coastal flooding is the event of May 12, 2008, which left at least one person dead and many people homeless after ocean flood waters destroyed homes, especially along the Delaware Bay Coast of Kent County. The added concern of sea-level rise and its effect on the frequency and intensity of coastal flooding events, further emphasizes the need for a modern, dependable coastal flood monitoring system for Delaware’s coastal communities.

The purpose of this project is to develop a real-time coastal flood monitoring and warning system for the coastal communities in Delaware. A prototype system was built for selected coastal communities along the Delaware Bay coast in Kent County. Work has also begun to expand the system to other areas along the Delaware Bat coastaline (i.e., areas within the coastal plain of Delaware where coastal flood potential is dominated by tidal fluctuations).

The Coastal Flood Monitoring System is comprised of:

  1. an early warning alert system (via emails and/or cell phone text messages that alerts subscribers of potential flood events,
  2. flood inundation maps and elevation profiles along primary evacuation routes using the latest LiDAR data for Delaware,
  3. predicted water level data from NOAA’s hydrodynamic model for up to 4 days in advance in graphical and tabular format, and
  4. a website and user guide that combines all aspects of this system with links to more real-time information (e.g., NWS weather alerts) for planners and emergency managers to use in advance of and during coastal storm events.

The deliverables from this project are used by several state agencies including the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Delaware Emergency Management Agency (DEMA), the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), and the Delaware National Estuarine Research Reserve (DNERR). Moreover, the proposed system will have a direct impact upon the well-being of Delaware's coastal communities.

Development and operation of the system builds on the existing expertise of the staff of the Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS) and the Delaware Geological Survey and is being conducted in cooperation with Delaware Coastal Program Section, DNREC.

Visit the Delaware Coastal Flood Monitoring System at http://coastal-flood.udel.edu/.