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Slosh Model

SLOSH (Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) is a computerized model run by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to estimate storm surge heights and winds resulting from historical, hypothetical, or predicted hurricanes by taking into account

  • Pressure
  • Size
  • Forward speed
  • Track
  • Winds

Graphical output (124kb or 348kb) from the model displays color coded storm surge heights for a particular area in feet above the model's reference level, the National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD), which is the elevation reference for most maps.

The calculations are applied to a specific locale's shoreline, incorporating the unique bay and river configurations, water depths, bridges, roads and other physical features. If the model is being used to estimate storm surge from a predicted hurricane (as opposed to a hypothetical one), forecast data must be put in the model every 6 hours over a 72-hour period and updated as new forecasts become available.

The SLOSH model is generally accurate within plus or minus 20 percent. For example, if the model calculates a peak 10 foot storm surge for the event, you can expect the observed peak to range from 8 to 12 feet. The model accounts for astronomical tides (which can add significantly to the water height) by specifying an initial tide level, but does not include rainfall amounts, riverflow, or wind-driven waves. However, this information is combined with the model results in the final analysis of at-risk-areas.

The point of a hurricane's landfall is crucial to determining which areas will be inundated by the storm surge. Where the hurricane forecast track is inaccurate, SLOSH model results will be inaccurate. The SLOSH model, therefore, is best used for defining the potential maximum surge for a location.

If you have a Hurricane Evacuation Study (which combines SLOSH model results with traffic flow information), you do not need information about storm surge heights in a real hurricane situation. You will only need to know the forecast of the storm's intensity at landfall and the tide at that time to be able to make an appropriate evacuation decision.

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