Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hurricane Center developing Web tool to predict risk to homes

ST. PETERSBURG — When hurricanes hit, it's often the water that kills.

So the National Hurricane Center is making it easier for people to learn if a hurricane is likely to cause seawater to surge into their homes. They soon will be able to find out at the Web site www.hurricanes.gov.

"If you have a Category 3 coming in, you can figure out, 'Am I at risk?' " said the center's director, Bill Read, who is in St. Petersburg to for a federal hurricane conference.

For example, if your house is at 10 feet above sea level, you'd probably want to evacuate from an incoming storm that threatens to raise seas 15 feet above sea level. On the other hand, if your house sits at 20 feet above sea level, you might decide to stay put during that storm, depending on local recommendations.

In a worst-case storm in the Tampa Bay area, swelling, unstoppable seas could rise more than 20 feet above low-lying parts of St. Petersburg, Tampa or Oldsmar.

A hurricane that crosses the Gulf of Mexico would push so much water inland that it would have no place to go but up and over the shore, sloshing over wide stretches of the region, destroying buildings, flooding homes, and likely trapping and killing some victims caught in the surge.

The first version of the new storm surge tool will be available later this year. It won't be terribly precise, and will assume people know the elevation of their homes. (Homeowners can find that information on their property survey.)

Read said he hopes to improve the tool in the future, possibly by using Google Earth or a similar technology that would allow people to type in their address to learn the storm surge danger. But that's a few years off, he said.

This week's Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference brings together federal officials from various agencies who are reviewing last year's hurricane season and discussing ways to prepare for the next one. Among Monday's topics: unmanned drones that can fly into tropical storms, without risking human lives, like the Hurricane Hunter aircraft that fly from such locations as Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at ckrueger@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8232.

Hurricane Center developing Web tool to predict risk to homes 03/02/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 2, 2009 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.