Delaware Coastline Data Gap Analysis

Project Description - Full Report (5294K)

In the last two decades storms such as Hurricanes Katrina and Ike along the Gulf of Mexico and Floyd and Hugo along the Atlantic Coast of the United States have resulted in significant loss of life, injuries and property damages reaching well over 100 billion dollars. Much of the damage during these and other tropical and extra-tropical weather systems is associated with severe coastal flooding. The Delaware coastline is extremely vulnerable to such events, examples being the great March, 1962 storm and the recent coastal flooding incident of May 12, 2008. A GAP Analysis of pertinent coastal data needs and a comprehensive survey of inland inundation levels during previous coastal flooding events have been completed as part of a cooperative effort between the University of Delaware and several Delaware State agencies. The goal is to better monitor conditions along the Delaware coastline and to provide advance warning of impending coastal flooding events.

This project included an exhaustive inventory of real-time and archived data suitable for coastal flood monitoring and research. The inventory includes meteorological, tidal, stream flow and buoy data sources, along with ancillary sources of coastal information (i.e. research publications, non-digital records, modeling, etc.). The inventory has lead to a series of recommendations as to the data needed to reach an "optimum" coastal monitoring network, and the spatial placement and temporal resolution of additional sensors that may need to be deployed to reach the optimum configuration. Thus, the GAP Analysis defines the present state of coastal data collection efforts across the state, suggests an "optimum" data collection network for coastal flood monitoring and research, identifies "gaps" in the present network of stations and recommends data that need to be added to the current network configuration. An inventory of available high water marks from previous coastal flooding events has been created to aid in understanding the relationships between water levels at tidal monitoring points and inland locations. All available high water records have been identified, their history confirmed and the inundation level recorded. Much of this data has been transcribed from handwritten forms to digital media. The verification of the handwritten material will continue beyond the duration of this project. The inundation data will be used in conjunction with observed tide heights at tidal monitoring points to better understand the inland inundation associated with various tidal levels along the coast.

Data Sources

Storm Inundation Data - [View Data (230K)]

An important component of a comprehensive coastal flood monitoring system for Delaware is the ability to relate previous inland inundation levels to tidal monitoring sites along the coast. High water marks have been identified, their history confirmed and the inundation level recorded for each site. The association between tide levels at active coastal monitoring sites and inland flood levels is critical in developing statistical relationships that can be used in the development of coastal flood models that accurately depict possible inland flooding given a forecast of tidal anomalies at active monitoring sites.