When Every Minute Counts: Continual Outreach and Coastal Modeling Support

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Nina Reins

Water Resources Engineer

mesh visualization of New Orleans
LSU visualization of ADCIRC model mesh of New Orleans

Fourth in a series

During a hurricane or tropical storm, one of the biggest threats to communities is compound flooding from storm surge and precipitation. Forecasting storm surge and riverine flooding in real time, however, is incredibly challenging — especially along Louisiana’s complex coastline. Our multidiscipline team is addressing this challenge by providing Louisiana’s decision-makers with flood guidance in real time. With a 15-year track record of proven success, our team deploys supercomputer-powered models to rapidly inform critical decisions at a large scale.

When decisions about evacuations and allocations of emergency resources are at stake, it’s critical that the technology is based on up-to-date data. As part of the forecasting efforts, LSU works closely with the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA), to collect on-the-ground data and to inform tide and flood gate operations.

Through its extension offices, LSU has a local presence in every parish, which Louisiana Sea Grant leverages in many ways. It continuously refines the ADCIRC model with public and private levee alignments, making the results more accurate for decision-makers.

  • Synthesis of topographic, bathymetric, and land use data
  • Computational mesh generation and regular updates
  • Model parameterization and boundary configuration
  • Model stability and sensitivity testing
  • Validating model results with real-world observations
  • Real time model guidance operations and support

About Our Team

At the heart of this work is the decision support tool developed and coded by senior hydrologist Katelyn Costanza, PE, CFM, the owner of CE Hydro, LLC, a Louisiana-founded woman-owned small business. Robert Twilley, at Louisiana Sea Grant, has been a key collaborator and supporter of this effort. Highly specialized hydraulic modeling resources from Freese and Nichols, led by Jim Keith, PE, CFM, and Bethany Fleitman, PE, CFM, have provided riverine modeling support to update, calibrate and validate a 2D model of the Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas watersheds. In addition, team member Jason Fleming, Principal of Seahorse Coastal Consulting, is the lead of the real-time ADCIRC Surge Guidance System (ASGS) for Louisiana and integrates critical surge data, while Carola Kaiser at the LSU Center for Computation and Technology led the development of visualization tools for the real-time forecasts on the Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment (CERA) website. The work is being done for the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) and Louisiana Sea Grant.

Read more from the LSU Office of Research & Economic Development: Partnerships Improve Hurricane Storm Surge Forecasts for Louisiana, Nation

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Nina Reins, PhD, PE, PMP, is a senior coastal project manager in New Orleans.

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