LSU researchers create new flood prediction model for hurricanes

(Courtesy NASA)

When Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina as a Category 1 storm in 2018, it set records for rainfall, creating damaging 500-year flooding events along the Cape Fear River Basin.

This is exactly the sort of weather event Z. George Xue of the LSU’s oceanography and coastal science department believes his new coupled computer modeling approach can more accurately predict, and thereby assist communities with disaster planning, according to a recent LSU announcement. Xue says as far as he knows, his lab is the only one using this technique.

Xue, along with LSU graduate student Daoyang Bao and the rest of their research team, recently published a study using the events of Hurricane Florence to demonstrate the validity of this new approach in the Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems.   

Improving the accuracy of flooding predictions can help in hurricane preparedness, says John C. Warner of the U.S. Geological Survey, another collaborator on the study.

“Our model can identify which region is most vulnerable in terms of compound flooding and provide not only short-term forecasts but also scenario analysis regarding future climate and sea level conditions,” Xue says.

In coupled modeling, simulations of river and ocean are paired and run at the same time, so each receives feedback from the other. This re-creates the conditions of a compound flooding event, where the storm surge accompanying the landfall of a hurricane and the swell of rain-induced flooding as the storm moves inland meet over a coastal area. Read more about the work from LSU.