Media advisory: UGA Marine Extension to measure flooding levels during king tide

Athens, Ga. – Staff from the University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant will be on Tybee Island Oct. 28 to measure the higher than normal water levels expected to accompany the king tide, which will occur that week.

What: Flood mapping using smartphone app

When: Wednesday, Oct. 28, 8 a.m.

Where: Meet at Tybee Island City Hall, 403 Butler Ave., Tybee Island
Note: Flooding conditions could force the closure of Highway 80 for a period of time. Participants must be at Tybee City Hall by 8 a.m. to ensure access to the data collection sites.

UGA employees may be joined by other state and local government officials as well as members of the Tybee community, who will use a flooding app on their smartphones to report trouble spots in real time and describe the flooding that occurs. The data collected by the app will be used to supplement other data collected by agencies and researchers working to better understand and plan for flooding caused by tides and sea level rise. The monitoring effort is part of a regional collaboration to gather data on coastal flooding from Florida to New York.

King tides occur once or twice yearly when the orbits and alignment of the Earth, moon and sun combine to produce the greatest tidal effects. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts when and where king tides will occur based on stations that provide water levels, meteorological observations and current observations. Because average daily water levels are rising, king tides are reaching higher and extending farther inland than in the past. Highlighting king tides in a community raises awareness of potential sea level rise impacts and identifies flood-prone locations such as those at risk from storm surge.

The flooding app developed by Wetlands Watch and Concursive Corporation allows individuals to use cellphones or tablets with app capacity to collect data on trouble spots by dropping a red pin in the general location of the flooding and providing a description of the type of flooding (rain, tidal or both).

App users also can collect information about the extent of the flooding event by walking the edge of the flooded area and dropping a blue location pin every few feet, creating an outline of the extent of the flooding. Only approved users who have undergone basic training may track events in this way. This is the aspect of the app that was recently utilized to gather data about flooding caused by Hurricane Joaquin. This feature is similar to traffic apps such as Intrix that allow users to report accidents and traffic delays so that other users can find alternative routes.

Georgia Sea Grant and Marine Extension, units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, are federal and state partners dedicated to conducting research, education and outreach to enhance coastal environmental, social and economic sustainability. Georgia Sea Grant is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country.