Enhancing Flood Hazard Assessments in Coastal Louisiana Through Coupled Hydrologic and Surge Processes

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Traditional coastal flood hazard studies do not typically account for rainfall-runoff processes in quantifying flood hazard and related cascading risks. This study addresses the potential impacts of antecedent rainfall-runoff, tropical cyclone (TC)-driven rainfall, and TC-driven surge on total water levels and its influence in delineating a coastal flood transition zone for two distinct coastal basins in southeastern Louisiana (Barataria and Lake Maurepas watersheds). Rainfall-runoff from antecedent and TC-driven rainfall along with storm surge was simulated using a new rain-on-mesh module incorporated into the ADCIRC code. Antecedent rainfall conditions were obtained for 21 landfalling TC events spanning 1948–2008 via rain stations. A parametric, TC-driven, rainfall model was used for precipitation associated with the TC. Twelve synthetic storms of varying meteorological intensity (low, medium, and high) and total rainfall were utilized for each watershed and provided model forcing for coastal inundation simulations. First, it was found that antecedent rainfall (pre-TC landfall) is influential up to 3 days pre-landfall. Second, results show that antecedent and TC-driven rainfall increase simulated peak water levels within each basin, with antecedent rainfall dominating inundation across the basin's upper portions. Third, the delineated flood zones of coastal, transition, and hydrologic show stark differences between the two basins.

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Frontiers in Water



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