Mapping and Visualization of Storm-Surge Dynamics for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita

Scientific Investigations Report 2009-5230




The damages caused by the storm surges from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita were significant and occurred over broad areas. Storm-surge maps are among the most useful geospatial datasets for hurricane recovery, impact assessments, and mitigation planning for future storms. Surveyed high-water marks were used to generate a maximum storm-surge surface for Hurricane Katrina extending from eastern Louisiana to Mobile Bay, Alabama. The interpolated surface was intersected with high-resolution lidar elevation data covering the study area to produce a highly detailed digital storm-surge inundation map. The storm-surge dataset and related data are available for display and query in a Web-based viewer application. A unique water-level dataset from a network of portable pressure sensors deployed in the days just prior to Hurricane Rita's landfall captured the hurricane's storm surge. The recorded sensor data provided water-level measurements with a very high temporal resolution at surveyed point locations. The resulting dataset was used to generate a time series of storm-surge surfaces that documents the surge dynamics in a new, spatially explicit way. The temporal information contained in the multiple storm-surge surfaces can be visualized in a number of ways to portray how the surge interacted with and was affected by land surface features. Spatially explicit storm-surge products can be useful for a variety of hurricane impact assessments, especially studies of wetland and land changes where knowledge of the extent and magnitude of storm-surge flooding is critical.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Mapping and Visualization of Storm-Surge Dynamics for Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s):
Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center
iv, 19 p.