Street-Level Modeling

Educating current and future scientists along with key decision makers and the general public regarding flood risk analysis and computational fluid dynamics is a challenging task.  Research into street-level modeling at VIMS is built upon the operational storm surge modeling experiences in the Mid-Atlantic region during 2011 Hurricane Irene in the Chesapeake Bay, to develop effective methods of predicting streetscale inundation.[1] To predict Hurricane Irene’s storm surge, a cross-scale ocean model (SCHISM) was provided atmospheric forcing data from NOAA’s Global Forecast System, and iteratively rerun every 6 hours to simulate 9 separate 30-hour forecast simulations, which were provided to emergency managers and the National Weather Service.[2] As a result, VIMS’ Estuarine Coastal Modeling Group, was awarded the Virginia Governor's Technology Award in 2011 for pioneering this new flood modeling technology.[3]

Since then, state-of-the-art sub-grid research has advanced research into storm surge and inundation modeling.

  1. In the CCRM, Dr. Derek Loftis’ dissertation (2014) focused on conducting storm surge and sub-grid inundation modeling in New York City, focusing on predicting coastal flood heights in the Mid-Atlantic during Hurricane Sandy,[4] with model results yielding a favorable comparison with NOAA tide gauge observations.[5]
  2. Simultaneously, research has also focused on storm surge flooding in Washington, D.C., during Hurricane Isabel and the historical 1936 Potomac Great Flood to detect potential breach points for riverine flooding near the National Mall.[6]
  3. Most recently, street-level research has investigated the balance of precipitation and soil infiltration on storm surge during Hurricanes Isabel and Irene using GPS field  observations of wrack lines collected at NASA Langley Research Center and throughout Hampton Roads to reveal that incorporating soil infiltration within the model improved prediction of inhomogeneous inundation extents and depths.[7]

These three recently-published research efforts demonstrate the CCRM’s research commitment to advancing hydrodynamic model predictions of urban inundation at the street-scale in the Hampton Roads Region now, and in the future.  For more information on specific modeling applications where this new street-level technology has been employed, please see the citations or click on an application scenario below for more information.