delware environmental institute

News Journal: Delaware gets ready for the next big storm

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey rushed into the field and installed dozens of high-tech sensors designed to pick up tide levels and storm surge in the days before Superstorm Sandy hit in late October 2012. But safety concerns and equipment issues kept them from getting to every site.

"By the time we finished deploying sensors," said Mark R. Nardi, a geographer with the survey based in Dover, "the wind was starting to pick up and the first rain was starting to come ashore."

We ended up in Ocean City, Maryland. The last site we wanted to deploy was on the state park pier on the south end Isle of Wight off of Rt 90. It was dark and rainy by the time we got there and in the end we decided against putting the sensor out."

Now Nardi and a team of researchers are setting up the sensor network system in advance thanks to a grant in the federal Superstorm Sandy relief package.

The idea, Nardi said, is to pre-stage the equipment and do the necessary survey work now, when the weather is calm and fair.

Then, when a storm is forecast, scientists can deploy each sensor at each predetermined location in a matter of minutes.

The project is part of the survey's Integrated Surge, Wave and Tide Hydrodynamic Network. Several types of sensors and monitoring tools will be deployed, Nardi said.

Some will collect data on wind and water levels every five minutes and others will sample wave action every 2.4 seconds. Those sensors will collect and store the data and then, within 36 hours after they are collected, the findings will be posted online for researchers, government officials and the public, Nardi said.

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