The University of Hawaiʻi’s Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) has developed a new online forecast tool capable of predicting coastal flooding up to six days in advance.


The school said the new an online high-resolution real-time wave run-up forecast tool will help increase preparedness and coastal resiliency for West Maui community members, property owners, businesses, and state and county officials.


West Maui consists of a highly complex nearshore environment. For example, chronic coastal erosion leads to severe property damage, and the associated land-based sediment impairs the nearshore water quality. Wave overtopping and flooding also pose a significant safety concern to infrastructure, particularly at the Honoapiʻilani Highway, West Maui’s only access point.


This new tool increased community resilience and enhanced preparedness by providing decision-makers, agency representatives, property owners, and community members with adequate time to respond to potential flooding events. 


First, the team divided the shoreline into 12 regions to account for the complexity and differences along the West Maui shoreline. Next, the PacIOOS team began to collect photo documentation from fine-tuning their online tool and identifying the impacts of these events along the West Maui shoreline. 


“Our modeling efforts capture all physical drivers that contribute to wave run-up, which sheds light on this intricate interplay,” said Douglas Luther, co-investigator from the Department of Oceanography at the University of Hawaiʻi Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology.


The projection will continue to evolve as more wave run-up events occur and additional photo documentation becomes available. The team is currently interested in photos around peak tides or swells or anytime waves overtop beach features. And if possible, to capture the maximum extent of water running up the shoreline.

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk State and Local Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.