Northeast Florida Projects

Shallow Water Bathymetry for the St. Johns River

NOAA's Office of Coast Survey, with support from Coastal Storms, identified many changes to soundings or depth obstructions to navigation on the St. Johns River between Mayport and Palatka with this bathymetric survey. The last complete bathymetric survey of the St. Johns took place in 1940 with a partial update occurring 1977. In the 2002 survey, over 45 obstructions were found between Mayport and Palatka. Read about the survey's unexpected historical find.
The Office of Coast Survey’s Navigation Response Team 2 traveled to nine ports in three weeks after Hurricanes Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne. The data helped ensure navigational safety through updated critical nautical charts and new information for emergency response organizations to use in the wake of a marine casualty or coastal storm. These data can be ordered from the Distribution Division by calling (800) 638-8972.

St. Johns River Circulation Model

As part of the Coastal Storms Program, the NOAA Office of Coast Survey applied a circulation model to the St. Johns River that was originally developed by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The model provides river conditions every hour and provides 36-hour forecasts (of river conditions) four times a day. Products include time series graphs of water levels, currents, and winds at critical locations. Annotated maps of water levels, currents, temperature, and salinity for the area covered by the model. The circulation model makes use of real-time operational observations (including water level, temperature and salinity, meteorological, and river gauge data), boundary conditions from coastal ocean models, freshwater inputs from watershed forecast models, and operational weather-forecast models. Results from the St. Johns River Operational Forecast System are available at

Improved Oceanographic and Meteorological Observations

Ocean and Weather Observations Now On-Line
Increasing coastal populations mean that increasing numbers of people are at risk during coastal storms. To accurately forecast storm-related impacts and warn vulnerable populations, marine forecasters and coastal managers need real-time access to reliable, standardized oceanographic and meteorological observations like wind, barometric pressure, air temperature, water levels, water currents, and water temperature and conductivity measurements. Three existing oceanographic and meteorological networks operate in the project area. NOAA has worked to improve these networks by deploying a new weather buoy off the Florida coast and by upgrading existing sensors.
Prototype Buoy a Success
In 2002, a new data buoy was deployed off the northeast coast of Florida. Not only does the buoy fill a gap in the existing observational network, but it also was the first buoy in the nation to report real-time salinity measurements. Salinity can be used to monitor ecosystem health. The more traditional information provided on ocean winds and wave heights are useful to mariners and forecasters in providing advanced warnings of weather hazards. These buoy data are currently available through the National Data Buoy Center Web site, through the Dial-A-Buoy program, and as an integrated piece of local weather forecasts.
Coastal Fog and Harbor Transportation
The C-MAN, or Coastal Marine Automated Network, provides another perspective for meteorologists and mariners alike. Each station typically provides wind speed, direction, and air temperature; however, some C-MAN stations are designed to measure seawater temperature, water level, relative humidity, precipitation, and visibility. These sensors are installed in remote areas, such as at unmanned lighthouses, capes and beaches, nearshore islands, and offshore platforms, where hazards to navigation have existed historically. As such, their data are instrumental in forecasting hazards like fog.
Upgraded Sensors and Hurricane Quick Look
Sensor installations and upgrades were completed for the tide stations. The real-time quality-controlled tide data are available in a consistent, user-friendly manner via the Internet. The Web site allows one to look at observations in three different ways: by state, by region, and from stations in storm-surge mode. A new product called Observational Quick Look shows users graphs of water level and meteorological data collected along the projected path of severe storms such as hurricanes.

Nearshore Wave Modeling

In 2002, the Coastal Storms Program selected the National Weather Service (NWS) to demonstrate the utility of a new a high-resolution wave model for Northeast Florida. NOAA worked with scientists from the Naval Research Laboratory and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to further develop and refine the Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN) high-resolution wave model for use in operational forecasting. Model improvements through the Coastal Storms Program, included coupling the wave model with a tidal current model, partitioning the wave field into components like wind wave and swell, and identifying specific hazards like steep and breaking waves. A highly, successful project, this model was expanded to other CSP areas and beyond. Efforts are under way to incorporate the work done with the SWAN model into the NOAA WAVEWATCH III model, which will mark its transition from use at local forecasts offices into a national operational forecast framework.

Ecological Assessment of Storm Impacts
Hidden Impacts of Coastal Storms

As part of the Coastal Storms Program, the National Marine Fisheries Service and National Ocean Service are provided coastal communities with a tool to assess and mitigate impacts from contaminants dispersed during coastal storms. The effort evaluated how contaminants affect natural resources and possible mitigation strategies were identified. More information about this project is available on-line at

Contaminant Database On-line

A land-use-based risk assessment was conducted to identify likely toxic contaminants. Approximately 170 pesticides used in agricultural, residential, and commercial applications have been identified within the watershed. A risk assessment database was developed that provides information on amounts and locations applied, known toxicology, and chemical characteristics that affect transport and fate. This contaminant database is available at

Ecological Decision Support Tool

A decision-support tool for the Coastal Storms Ecological Assessment project that combines the use of a standard database structure and data query/mapping application (Query ManagerTM/ MARPLOT) was created in Northeast Florida. This integrated approach simplifies data synthesis and communication of critical information to create watershed-based maps that display analyzed, sorted, and summarized data.

Assessment of Larval Fish Impacts

Of these 170 pesticides, three chemicals were identified that pose significant hazards and occur at high levels in the St. Johns River and its tributaries after heavy rains. To identify the sensitivity of fish and invertebrates to these chemicals, standardized methodologies were developed for conducting toxicology tests. Since fish’s early life stages are most sensitive and because reductions in larval fish will ultimately affect adult populations, special attention was given to assessing contaminant impacts on these stages.

Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Tool

To help communities identify their risks and vulnerabilities, Coastal Storms Program supported NOAA Office for Coastal Management to work collaboratively with officials from Brevard and Volusia counties to develop the Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Tool (RVAT). The tool was one of the first efforts to provide interactive spatial analysis and mapping capabilities to allow individuals to understand their risk and vulnerability. RVAT laid the foundation for subsequent products such as the Coastal Flood Mapper, a tool that enables users to explore maps that show people, places, and natural resources exposed to coastal flood hazards.

Inland Flood Planning and Response Tool

The Inland Flood Planning and Response Tool, available within HURREVAC, enables federal, state, and local officials and emergency managers to access real-time flood related information, such as current rainfall estimates, rainfall forecasts, current and forecasted river stages, general flood alerts, and information on historical flood impacts. This information is invaluable for updating or developing inland flood-related evacuation and response plans, and conducting exercises and drills. Learn more about this model at the HURREVAC Web site.

Hazardous Materials Planning and Response

A hazardous materials planning workshop, was conducted by the National Ocean Service Office of Response and Restoration. This workshop identified the locations and types of facilities that store or use materials that could be hazardous to human health if released during an accident or coastal storm. Workshop information and scenarios were incorporated into a computer-based management tool (CAMEO) and then used to train first responders. This software is freely available to all. The workshop also resulted in an updated hazardous materials response plan for the project area.

Data Access and Standards

As part of the Coastal Storms Program (CSP), NOAA increased the amount of data available to forecasters and community decision makers to support accurate forecasts and response scenarios. Rapid access to real-time observations is saving time and effort during the critical periods immediately before, during, and after a storm event. To learn more about this project or other coastal applications, visit the National Coastal Data Development Center Web site.