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Texas A&M University Corpus Christi - Discover Your Island

Blucher Institute Receives $2 Million for Coastal Safety Monitoring to Provide Real-Time Data If Hit By Category 4 Hurricane

August 19, 2013

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Conrad Blucher Institute for Surveying and Science (CBI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Texas General Land Office (TGLO) to install four “Sentinels of the Coast” data collection stations.

These sentinels, which can withstand the effects of a category four hurricane, will collect federally-approved water level and meteorological data. The CBI oversees design, construction, and installation of each structure.  Upon completion, CBI will install equipment and initiate operation and data collection from these new monitoring stations that will be incorporated into the Texas Coastal Ocean Observation Network (TCOON).  

“These new stations will allow us to monitor conditions before, during, and after a hurricane has made landfall,” said James Rizzo, CBI Assistant Director of Operations.  “The data will be used by local National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center personnel for forecasting models. The data will be an invaluable resource to local, state, and other federal agencies during storm events.”

Rizzo says that after the storm, the information will be used by numerous agencies as they assess damage along the coast and to the waterways of the Texas Coast. The stations will provide accurate, real-time water level, wind speed, direction, and gust information, barometric pressure, and temperatures.

“This data will assist scientists and researchers in improving models related to storm conditions,” said Rizzo.  “The accuracy of these forecasts is what saves lives.”

The project should be completed by July 31, 2015. The data collection stations will meet the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services strict scientific guidelines. The new monitoring stations will be located at Surfside (Freeport), Port Aransas, the Matagorda Ship Channel (near Port O'Connor), and South Padre Island, all critical locations along the coast. Each station will include instrumentation located approximately 30 feet above sea level. 

The most recent hurricane to hit the Texas Coast was Hurricane Ike in September 2008. The category two hurricane produced 110 mph winds with storm surges of up to 14 feet in the Galveston and Port Arthur areas. The storm, which caused more than $19 billion in damages, damaged three monitoring stations and destroyed five others. The CBI completed the installation of two identical data collection stations in 2011, which are located at Texas Point on the Sabine River and at the Galveston Entrance Channel North Jetty.

Since 1989, the CBI has provided real-time meteorological information essential for predicting and measuring water levels throughout the TCOON. In all, there are 30 monitoring stations along the Gulf Coast.  

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