Weather Service unveils new surge models in St. Tammany Parish

Weather Service unveils new surge models in St. Tammany Parish

MANDEVILLE, LA (WVUE) - Emergency managers in St. Tammany want residents to be aware of a new forecasting tool that they believe will save lives. They say it will be vital in a parish that still doesn't have full flood protection.

"Slow storm bad for us. The the slower it is, the more water gets in the lake," said Ken Graham with the National Weather Service.

"There's no denying every time we get a storm, we get surge and flooding," said Dexter Accardo, with St. Tammany emergency operations.

Emergency managers watch closely as the National Weather Service unveils a new storm surge forecasting tool that they say will give residents the best information as to what their predicted storm surge will be.

"We've been working on this since Gustav in '08," Graham said.

It's called P-surge. The Weather Service says it's 90 percent accurate 48 hours ahead of landfall.

"P-surge takes every error into account and gives a better value of what storm surge will be," Graham said.

The P-surge slosh models factors in elevation, direction and storm speed. It shows that a faster moving storm eases the flood threat in Lake Pontchartrain.

"Two miles per hour to 15 miles per hour - look at the difference," said Graham.

St. Tammany emergency managers also got a sneak peak at a new EOC to be built in Lacombe as opposed to Covington.

"This is the EOC, theater style, step down," said Accardo as he looked over the blueprints.

The current EOC was originally built in the 1950s and has half the sleeping capacity of the new EOC, which will be built to house the National Weather Service and other EOCs if needed.

"We see the need for a bigger facility for St. Tammany government and the region," said Accardo.

"Florida has this situation on the bottom, that's us, there's nothing to stop the water," said Graham, as he showed inundation on a mockup of Louisiana's coast.

And they hope new P-surge forecasting will give people better information than ever as they determine whether to evacuate, if the time comes.

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