While Tropical Storm Isaac approaches and hurricane warnings are being issued for portions of the northern Gulf Coast,
Mississippi State University researchers are preparing 12-hour models to forecast storm surge from Isaac that will inundate
the coastal areas in its path. This information will be of significant assistance to decision makers of disaster agencies
and others who are advising the public of emergency preparedness plans for sheltering in place or for potential evacuations.
Storm surge models are being run by a team of scientists under the direction of Dr. Pat Fitzpatrick, research professor of
meteorology and MSU hurricane expert known for his vast number of research publications that includes the reference book
Hurricanes (2nd edition). Dr. Fitzpatrick’s team is located at the Mississippi State University Science and Technology Center
at Stennis Space Center.
The storm surge models are generated from the ADvanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) model, a hydrodynamic model requiring a supercomputer
to capture high-resolution features. The track and winds are based on the official National Hurricane Center
forecasts. However, Dr. Fitzpatrick’s data for winds is designed to capture the horizontal distribution out to their 39-mph extent (tropical-storm force).
According to Fitzpatrick, capturing the horizontal wind distribution is just as important as getting the track and intensity right.
The large-capacity model runs are an example of the computational services being provided by the High Performance Computing
Collaboratory (HPC2) at MSU. The Geosystems Research Institute at Stennis Space Center where Dr. Fitzpatrick is based, is one of
six member centers of the HPC2 that are able to take advantage of high performance computing resources at the university.
This research effort is part of a larger collaboration: as a member of the NSF-funded Northern Gulf Coastal Hazards Collaboratory
(NG CHC), Mississippi State University is working with Louisiana and Alabama to leverage partnerships, proximity, and significant
prior ventures to advance science and engineering of coastal hazards across the northern Gulf of Mexico region.