The Greater Miami Chapter of the AMS present
"NHC's Storm Surge Program"
Jaime Rhome
Storm Surge Forecast Program

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 at 3 PM.
Refreshments 2:45 PM

AOML Seminar Room
Virginia Key, FL

Jaime Rhome was recently appointed head of NHC's Storm Surge forecast program. He will discuss NHC's role in NOAA's overall storm surge enterprise, changes to NHC products for 2009, and future goals/activities.

Minutes of the meeting

The meeting was called to order at 3:10 PM in the first floor conference room of the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. There were sixteen people in attendance. Eleven ballots were distributed to the paying members present and the candidates briefly introduced before voting took place. The ballots were tabulated by Derek Ortt and the results read at the end of the meeting. The new officers were then announced : Falko Judt as chapter president, Dan Dixon as vice president/secretary, and Candace Compos as chapter treasurer.

Outgoing chapter president, Neal Dorst, introduced the afternoon's speaker, Jamie Rhome. Recently, Mr. Rhome was promoted from hurricane specialist to head of NHC's storm surge unit. In that capacity, he has been working at NOAA headquarters for the last several months helping to formulate NOAA's roadmap for future progress in storm surge forecasting and advocating an intergovernmental approach to coastal flooding problems. He outlined some of the progress that has been made along these lines, but also pointed out the lack of a storm surge module in FEMA's HAZUS program, the need for more inter-disciplinary cooperation between oceanographers and meteorologists in formulating future programs, and the absence of any coordinating Federal agency in this area.

He gave the recent examples of Hurricanes Katrina and Ike in demonstrating the dire impact storm surge is still having in the United States and the serious short-comings our current warning system still has. For the 2009 hurricane season he announced the use of surge heights in reference to ground level instead of abstract geological reference levels. Software for displaying SLOSH model output is now publicly available, and this data will be released in GIS friendly shape-files. Also average storm surge values are being expunged from the Saffir-Simpson scale to remove the confusion this has caused the public. Johns Hopkins University has modernized the SLOSH code, increasing the ability to easily modify modules in the future.

Mr. Rhome made his case for the use of probabilistic versus deterministic storm surge forecasting, illustrating the difference between the forecast and observed surge affecting Mobile and Pensacola Bay when the track errors were within the 'cone of error'. He made the point that people understand probabilities but they don't understand surge. He also gave us a preview of where storm surge forecasting may be headed in the future, such as the use of ensemble surge forecasts and the controversial subject of NWS issuing storm surge warnings apart from the hurricane warnings.

There were a number of questions following the talk, and Mr. Rhome was very enthusiastic about future improvements in this area. We adjourned at 4:20 PM.

Return to Seminar listings
Return to Miami AMS chapter home