Coastal flooding of normally dry land (inundation) in the Northeast is generally caused by a combination of heavy rains, high river discharge, tides, wind waves, and storm surge. Since inundation can be dangerous and the combined tides, storm surge, and wind waves cause significant coastal damage during a number of New England winter storms each year, NERACOOS is helping to support the development of a regional inundation forecast system to (1) provide warning of coastal flooding on an event timescale in order to facilitate evacuation and other emergency measures to protect human life and property in the coastal zone, and (2) compute (using hindcasts) accurate statistics of coastal inundation in order to enable rationale planning regarding sustainable land-use practices in the coastal zone and potential impacts of climate- related sea level rise.

Recent inundation-focused NERACOOS initiatives include:


With support from NERACOOS, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (UMassD) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) are developing a numerical model system to simulate and forecast coastal inundation at two sites, Scituate MA and Saco ME. These two sites have been chosen by the National Weather Service (NWS) Coastal Inundation Pilot Project as representative coastal towns that frequently experience extensive coastal flooding and property damage during strong storms (e.g., Nor-easters).

The coastal inundation forecast system consists of a local FVCOM model for the town that includes both the harbor/estuary and surrounding coastal waters and the beaches and land up to the highest elevation that experiences maximum flooding. The model grid for Scituate is now in being constructed using a combination of USGS bathymetry data, USACE/NOAA lidar bathymetry/elevation data, Mass CZM elevation data and engineering data on local coastal structures (including seawalls). The Scituate inundation FVCOM grid (FVCOM-Scituate) will feature very high horizontal resolution in critical areas (e.g., ~ 1-5 m in order to resolve seawalls) and share its outer ocean boundary with the regional NECOFS model grid. FVCOM-Scituate will be driven by the NECOFS forecast fields (surface winds, pressure, waves, ocean elevation and currents) to produce 3-day forecasts of the surface elevation, waves and 3D currents in the Scituate model domain. Due to the importance of coastal structures (especially the state and private seawalls) and wave setup both on the exposed beaches and in the harbor, two new FVCOM system modules have been developed, one to simulate overflow over a seawall when the water level rises above the seawall, and a surface wave model better suited to simulate waves within the Scituate harbor/estuary.

The Scituate inundation forecast system is being developed with close collaboration with Scituate town, MA CZM, and the Taunton NWS WFC. The Scituate inundation forecast system will be run continuously with model output automatically posted on the NECOFS data server for use by the town, state, and NWS personnel.

Once the Scituate inundation forecast system is tested and running in experimental mode, the FVCOM-Saco grid will be constructed and connected to NECOFS to begin to produce Saco inundation forecasts.

The NECOFS 3-day forecasts are available at:

Long Island Sound

LISICOS is supporting the deployment of high resolution terrestrial lidar for coastal connecticut including inundation/flooding scenarios abd surge modeling outputs.

NOAA North Atlantic Regional Team (NART) Coastal Inundation Pilot Project

In late 2007, NOAA/CSC formed a working group to coordinate ongoing regional efforts in the area of inundation. Two pilot communities (Scituate, MA and Saco, ME) were selected for focus, and partners have contributed efforts in the development of real-time storm surge prediction tools.

Products in development include:

NERACOOS Inundation Partners:

UMass Dartmouth - NECOFS
Mass Coastal Zone Management
Emergency Management Agencies (Maine, Massachusetts)
National Weather Service - Gray, ME and Taunton, MA
NOAA Coastal Services Center
NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Marine Modeling and Analysis Branch
USCG (high-resolution surface weather, sea-state, and current forecasts for input into the search planning tool SAROPS)
USGS (river discharge and coastal sediment transport)
DFO Centre for Ocean Model Development and Application (COMDA)
City of Saco, ME
Town of Scituate, MA