Researchers at UNC Marine Sciences predict storm surge impacts

Published: Sep. 4, 2019 at 9:28 PM EDT
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Hurricane experts say along the coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane and experts at a local university are using super computers and data to look at predicting just how bad it will be.

Rick Luettich, Director of the UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, says, "This is an unforgiving threat and hazard and one that you want to evacuate and not try to ride out."

Luettich and colleagues have been running data through their super computers for over a week now, in an effort to better understand just how big of a threat storm surge could become.

Luettich says, "We think that there will be significant storm surge but storm surge that's probably that's not worse than what we've seen in the past along the ocean front, but the bigger consequence we think will be in southern and perhaps southwestern Pamlico Cound, maybe even western Pamlico Cound depending again on exactly where the storm track is."

Using data from forecasters and the current track of Dorian, experts try to create a composite picture of how the ocean will respond, and they even take it one step further. Luettich says, "When we run our models we run their forecast but then we run a few other alternatives or likely scenarios that surround that so we can bracket what we think will happen."

The information from Luettich and his team has become very reliable and accurate and is used by government agencies and other organizations to help better prepare.

Luettich says, "We hope that our models will provide accurate and useful information for decision making throughout coastal North Carolina."

The biggest message from UNC scientists is everyone in those areas should prepare for this storm and heed all warnings.