Real-Time Forecasting and Visualization of Hurricane Waves and Storm Surge Using SWAN+ADCIRC and FigureGen

  • J. C. Dietrich
  • C. N. Dawson
  • J. M. Proft
  • M. T. Howard
  • G. Wells
  • J. G. Fleming
  • R. A. LuettichJr.
  • J. J. Westerink
  • Z. Cobell
  • M. Vitse
  • H. Lander
  • B. O. Blanton
  • C. M. Szpilka
  • J. H. Atkinson
Conference paper
Part of the The IMA Volumes in Mathematics and its Applications book series (IMA, volume 156)


Storm surge due to hurricanes and tropical storms can result in significant loss of life, property damage, and long-term damage to coastal ecosystems and landscapes. Computer modeling of storm surge is useful for two primary purposes: forecasting of storm impacts for response planning, particularly the evacuation of vulnerable coastal populations; and hindcasting of storms for determining risk, development of mitigation strategies, coastal restoration, and sustainability. Model results must be communicated quickly and effectively, to provide context about the magnitudes and locations of the maximum waves and surges in time for meaningful actions to be taken in the impact region before a storm strikes.In this paper, we present an overview of the SWAN + ADCIRC modeling system for coastal waves and circulation. We also describe FigureGen, a graphics program adapted to visualize hurricane waves and storm surge as computed by these models. The system was applied recently to forecast Hurricane Isaac (2012) as it made landfall in southern Louisiana. Model results are shown to be an accurate warning of the impacts of waves and circulation along the northern Gulf coastline, especially when communicated to emergency managers as geo-referenced images.


Hurricane waves Storm surge Hurricane Isaac (2012) ASGS SWAN ADCIRC FigureGen 



This work was supported by awards from the National Science Foundation (DMS-0915223); the SSPEED Center at Rice University (; the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (; and the Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence (2008-ST-061-ND 0001). Computational resources were provided by the Texas Advanced Computing Center ( and the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (under award number TG-080016N). Some images were overlaid on the ocean basemap that was designed and developed by Esri [11].


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. C. Dietrich
    • 1
  • C. N. Dawson
    • 1
  • J. M. Proft
    • 1
  • M. T. Howard
    • 2
  • G. Wells
    • 2
  • J. G. Fleming
    • 3
  • R. A. LuettichJr.
    • 4
  • J. J. Westerink
    • 5
  • Z. Cobell
    • 6
  • M. Vitse
    • 1
  • H. Lander
    • 7
  • B. O. Blanton
    • 7
  • C. M. Szpilka
    • 8
  • J. H. Atkinson
    • 6
  1. 1.Institute for Computational Engineering and SciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  2. 2.Center for Space ResearchUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA
  3. 3.Seahorse Coastal ConsultingMorehead CityUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Marine SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  5. 5.Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth SciencesUniversity of Notre DameSouth BendUSA
  6. 6.Arcadis Inc.DenverUSA
  7. 7.Renaissance Computing InstituteUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillChapel HillUSA
  8. 8.School of Civil Engineering and Environmental ScienceUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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