An Overview of the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS)

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Conference Proceeding

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Florida is the United States' fourth most populous state, with 80% of the population living in a coastal county. Several storms have brought large, unpredicted flooding to Florida's West Coast. The coastal sea level response to tropical and extra-tropical storms results from wind forcing over the entire continental shelf. For example, during the March 1993 no-name "Storm of the Century", residents of West Florida's Pasco County experienced storm surge flooding of 6-9 feet along the coast in the early morning hours when most people were asleep. 8,009 units received some level of damage. 2,266 homes received minor damage, 5,506 received major damage and storm surge flooding destroyed 237 homes. In contrast, local response may actually be due to storm winds quite distant from the local area of concern; a case in point being Tropical Storm Josephine, a modest storm that nevertheless brought large, unpredicted flooding in the spatially distant Tampa Bay, Florida area. This overview briefly describes the University of South Florida/College of Marine Science's (USF/CMS) Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System (COMPS). COMPS operates along the Gulf of Mexico's west Florida coast and was implemented in 1997 as a State of Florida legislative initiative. Data and model products are disseminated in real-time to federal, state, and local emergency management officials by various means including the Internet (URL http://comps.marine.usf.edu). The COMPS overall program goal is to provide real-time data for emergency management use and to improve description and understanding of the relevant physical processes that control shelf circulation, hydrography, and coastal flooding caused by storm surges. COMPS provides an example of the practical value of university research.

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Presented at the Oceans'01 MTS/IEEE Conference on November 5-8, 2001 in Honolulu, HI