NEWS NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCES  Water and Natural Hazards at the USGS  https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/natural-hazards&n...

NEWS NOTES ON SUSTAINABLE WATER RESOURCES  Water and Natural Hazards at the USGS  https://www.usgs.gov/mission-areas/natural-hazards ; Many natural hazards are closely connected to water in some way, either because of insufficient amount or because too much arrives in a location in a short time. This link connects to the USGS Natural Hazard Mission Area, with detailed descriptions of such phenomena.  Hurricanes fall into this category. The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season starts June 1, and the U.S. Geological Survey is prepared to provide science that can help guide efforts to protect lives and property if a major storm makes landfall this season.  This year is projected to have a 40 percent chance of being a near-normal season and a 30 percent chance of being above normal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center’s 2019 hurricane season forecast. An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour or higher, including six hurricanes and three major hurricanes of Category 3, 4 or 5. For 2019, the NOAA forecast calls for nine to 15 named storms, including four to eight hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes.  Before a storm’s expected landfall, USGS coastal change experts forecast how a storm may reshape the coastline using a sophisticated system they developed called the coastal change hazard forecast model.  Working with the National Weather Service, the coastal hazards storm team also updates forecasts for some areas several times a day using real-time water levels from the Weather Service’s Nearshore Wave Prediction System. The team’s Total Water Level and Coastal Change Forecast Viewer displays results from a new model that currently covers about 1,865 miles of coastline in select areas from Florida through Maine. The model predicts the timing and height of water levels at the shoreline, as well as potential impacts to coastal dunes. This year, NOAA will use the predictions to help inform forecasters at the National Hurricane Center. As the program's coverage area expands, the predictions will also be made available to National Weather Service forecasting offices and to the public.  Once it’s determined a hurricane or tropical storm will likely strike somewhere in the U.S., USGS field crews deploy to the storm’s projected path along the coast to install special water-level measuring instruments called storm-tide sensors. These sensors record data that track storm tides and coastal flooding. This information helps USGS and NOAA scientists improve certain forecast models. It also helps FEMA and other federal, state and local agencies’ relief efforts by pinpointing the areas hardest hit by storm-tide flooding.  USGS crews also install rapid-deployment gauges at locations that are not monitored year-round, but are at risk of flooding due to an approaching storm. These RDGs provide real-time information to emergency managers tracking floodwaters, such as water level, precipitation, wind speed, humidity and barometric pressure.  Once the storm danger has passed, USGS field crews travel to the affected areas to make real-time streamflow measurements, verify the accuracy of streamgage readings and quickly repair or replace damaged or lost gauges. This work is vital to flood forecasting and informs decisions on how best to protect communities.The crews also fan out across affected areas to document high water. They look for telltale lines of seeds, leaves, grass blades and other debris left behind on tree trunks, buildings, bridges and other structures as floodwaters recede. Once they find these high-water marks, they photograph and record details about them and survey them to determine the depth and range of the flooding. This field work is time-sensitive, because high-water marks can be destroyed by weather and property owners’ cleanup efforts. FEMA uses high-water mark data and related information to steer relief to areas of greatest need in the days after a storm, and later, to update flood insurance maps.During a disaster like a hurricane, first responders often rely on the USGS National Geospatial Program, which collects, archives and shares digital records on the nation’s topography, natural landscape and human-made environment. The program’s Geospatial Information Response Team (GIRT) works within the USGS and with partner agencies to provide key information to federal, state and local agencies, emergency managers and first responders. The information is shown on multi-layered websites or on printed maps that provide a big-picture view of a storm’s impacts, or a close-up of a specific community.