Seawater overtopping roadways or flooding homes and businesses in low-lying communities can threaten the public health and safety of Pacific Islanders. A team of physical oceanographers working with the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) has developed new tools to forecast potential inundation events so that affected communities can better prepare and respond to such threats days in advance. The forecast models are called the PacIOOS Six-Day High Sea Level Forecasts and the most recent developments include Apra Harbor in Guam and Malakai in Palau.
“Along with a more accurate analysis of the tides, the PacIOOS Six-Day High Sea Level Forecast tool utilizes analyses of several kinds of non-tidal sea level variability that can add to the height of the tide to produce unexpected flooding in coastal areas in the absence of storms or tsunamis,” explains Martin Guiles, PacIOOS senior physical oceanographic research specialist and project lead. “The predictions include the influences of currents and eddies that evolve over days, as well as shorter period motions not included in tide-only forecasts.”
Guiles reiterates that the forecasts do not include predictions of tsunamis or storm surge flooding. In those events, the public is advised to seek advice from the National Weather Service.
Guiles and Doug Luther, PacIOOS co-investigator and professor of oceanography at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, developed these forecasts in response to requests from ocean stakeholders in the PacIOOS region. Fishermen, divers, surfers, boaters, businesses, government agencies, and emergency responders all benefit from the increased prediction accuracy of sea level in areas where there may be an inundation and flooding threat. More informed citizens and agencies lead to better decisions and preparation.
To access the High Sea Level Forecasts, check out the PacIOOS website.