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Flooding is expected along the East Coast due to heavy rains and storm surge from Hurricane Joaquin. This comes after flooding earlier this week from the Supermoon lunar eclipse. (Photo: Kelly Patton)

UGA to participate in multi-state flood watch during Hurricane Joaquin

Athens, Ga. – As states along the East Coast anticipate heavy rainfall over the next few days, scientists from Florida to Maryland, including the University of Georgia, are partnering to gather data about the extent of flooding and storm surge along the Atlantic coast.

Using a new mobile app developed by Wetlands Watch and Concursive, a network of researchers, students and residents will track flooding over the coming days, particularly at high tide.

“We wanted to tap the knowledge of coastal residents and use that information to speed solutions to flooding,” said Skip Stiles, executive director of Wetlands Watch. “So we worked with an IT firm, Concursive, and developed the phone app to crowdsource flooding information.”

Due to the slow movement of the storm, surge is predicted to last for up to eight tidal cycles. Combined with heavy rain, coastal regions along the East Coast are at risk for prolonged and extensive flooding. Erosion is also a concern as wind and wave energy from Hurricane Joaquin reach the East Coast.

Many coastal communities have already experienced flooding this week as a result of exceptionally high tides from the supermoon lunar eclipse. With the ground already saturated, flash floods and waterlogged storm water systems that cannot drain are an additional threat.

The regional collaboration is a pilot effort to utilize citizen science to inform forecasting of storm surge and flooding, as well as assess the accuracy of current models.

“I think it’s amazing how we can mobilize so quickly to collect data that will inform and enhance future storm surge predictions,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant. “One of Sea Grant’s greatest strengths is the ability to rapidly respond in times of crisis.”

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant extension and education specialists will be monitoring flooding at select sites on St. Simons, Tybee and Skidaway islands. The newly formed monitoring network plans to repeat this effort in several weeks, when naturally occurring King Tides are expected to bring another round of flooding. Additional partners include Sea Grant programs from North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida, as well as UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, Stetson University and Carolina Integrated Sciences and Assessments.

Photos and updates of the effort will be posted at https://hamptonroadscares.org/show/sea-level-rise.

The University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant College Program, units of the UGA Office of Public Service and Outreach, are a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Georgia and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, environment and citizens of Georgia. The programs’ shared mission is to improve public resource policy, encourage far-sighted economic and fisheries decisions, anticipate vulnerabilities to change and educate citizens to be wise stewards of the coastal environment. Georgia Sea Grant is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. For more information, see http://marex.uga.edu or http://georgiaseagrant.uga.edu.


Writer: Jill Gambill, 305-542-8975, jgambill@uga.edu
Contact: Mark Risse, 706-202-9576, mrisse@uga.edu

Friday, October 2, 2015