The Great Lakes Coastal Storms Program was a recently concluded regional effort led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to make Great Lakes coastal communities safer and more resilient to storm and weather hazards and climate change. Partnering with the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network, the Coastal Storms Program funded projects in the Great Lakes with the long-lasting goals of:
- improving dangerous current and wave observations, modeling, forecasting/warnings and risk communication;
- addressing the impacts of stormwater on natural resources and promoting best management practices;
- enhancing shoreline mapping, visualization and management; and
- promoting hazard mitigation and community resilience.
Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Projects
Small Grant Projects
Geographic Scope: Great Lakes
The myBeachCast app currently allows Great Lakes beachgoers to view real-time beach information on android devices, including water quality advisories, weather and water conditions. This project will extend the capabilities of myBeachCast to the iOS (Apple-iPhone) platform, potentially doubling the user rate. In addition, streamlined online and mobile reporting methods will be developed to allow the integration of beach condition reports into myBeachCast. This will enable users of myBeachCast to instantly access local beach conditions such as wave heights, water temperatures and flag status, as reported by lifeguards and beach supervisors.
Partners: Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant College Program, Illinois State Coastal Management Program, Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program, Michigan Coastal Management Program, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, Wisconsin Coastal Management Program
Geographic Scope: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin
Dangerous waves and currents are the number one risk to recreational water users in the Great Lakes. This project will address the pressing need to raise awareness on how to recognize and respond to dangerous currents and will provide the latest products that can help save lives. The project will also develop long-term strategies that incorporate regional collaboration, as well as the latest technology into beach hazard messaging and outreach. Project managers will create new, consistent messages around dangerous currents and waves for Great Lakes beaches based on past experience and recent research. Beach safety equipment (e.g., life jackets, throw rings, throw bags, and rescue boards) will also be distributed along Great Lakes beaches with additional risk communication materials.
Partners: Minnesota Sea Grant College Program, NOAA/National Ocean Service, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Geographic Scope: Duluth, MN; Milwaukee, WI and Port Washington, WI
Real-time observations of rip currents are currently not available for the shorelines in Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. This project will use innovative beach hazard forecasting technology to improve rip current identification, forecasting and public notification. Video-imaging will allow for identification and detection of hazardous wave conditions. Computer models will be applied to the beaches, which will allow researchers to better predict hazardous wave conditions. Three rip-current-prone beaches are being targeted, including Bradford Beach (Milwaukee, WI), North Beach (Port Washington, WI), and Park Point Beach (Duluth, MN). Project members will coordinate with local communities to apply the results of the project to improve the management and public safety at their beaches, and increase public awareness about dangerous waves and currents in the Great Lakes.
Partners: Genesee/Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, State University of New York, State University of New York – College of Environmental Science and Forestry, University at Buffalo
Geographic scope: Greece, NY; Hilton, NY and Parma, NY
Regular flooding in Monroe County, NY, has been documented since 1865. The very low slopes of lake plain topography and wet climate have always presented a challenge to these communities for draining the surface runoff generated by even small rain events. The primary goal of this project is to work with coastal municipalities in Monroe County to reduce their flooding vulnerability, improve water quality, and increase their resiliency to climate change to benefit human and ecological communities. A vulnerability assessment and economic analysis will help inform the development of a Floodplain Action Plan, which will list specific steps for the community to take to protect people and nature. This plan will reflect the connection of upstream and downstream communities and will incorporate land use planning and regulation, Smart Growth principles, green infrastructure techniques, water resource sustainability and climate change adaptation.
Partners: North Carolina State University, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife -Old Woman Creek NERR, Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Division of Soil and Water Resources
Geographic scope: Cuyahoga County, OH and Lake County, OH
Since 2006, Lake County in northeastern Ohio has endured both 250-year and 500-year storm events. One community experienced flooding of over 70% of the residential structures due to undersized stormwater infrastructure. This project seeks to improve the green infrastructure planning and implementation that can help reduce runoff volumes, limit damages and help Lake County communities recover more quickly from heavy precipitation events. Using future climate modeling projections, the Chagrin River Watershed Partners (CRWP) will update their existing model codes for riparian setbacks, comprehensive stormwater management, and flood damage reduction. CRWP will then work with communities to adopt these updated codes. North Carolina State University will use a model (DRAINMOD) to determine which bioretention and permeable pavement designs will perform best under predicted and extreme climate change rainfall scenarios. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will use the model results to evaluate the design guidance in the Rainwater and Land Development Manual.
Partners: City of South Haven
Geographic Scope: Southwestern Michigan and northern Indiana
The stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline between Muskegon, MI and Michigan City, IN, contains several of the most popular beaches in the Great Lakes region. While there are several offshore buoys in this region that provide valuable weather data to the local National Weather Service offices and recreational boaters, there is a 70-mile information gap between Bridgman, MI and Port Sheldon, MI. This project will improve and increase nearshore real‐time marine observations in western Michigan and northern Indiana through two main activities. First, a buoy will be deployed off the coastline of South Haven, MI, to fill the 70-mile observation gap. Second, the project leader will work with the owners and operators of the four other nearshore buoys to create a regional communication plan that will help coordinate the relay of information to local and regional water safety personnel, boaters, anglers, residents, and tourists of the seven coastal counties in western Michigan and northern Indiana.
Partners: University of Vermont – Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
Geographic Scope: Chittenden County, VT and Essex County, NY
Many towns in the Lake Champlain Basin use FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS) to control development in vulnerable locations. However, these maps do not indicate erosion flooding risks, which are a more common hazard in this region. To address this gap, flood information from the past 50 years will be used to compare the frequency of impacts of three different flood hazard mapping methods: FIRMS, NRCS Floodable soils layers, and FEH zones. Following this analysis, current river corridor zoning regulations will be evaluated in two Lake Champlain Basin rivers (Ausable River, NY and Winooski River, VT) to highlight the areas at increased risk for future flooding.
Geographic Scope: Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin
The Great Lakes coastal region experienced extensive storm impacts from Superstorm Sandy, resulting in massive infrastructure failures, to loss of property and more. While hurricane preparedness plans exist for many marinas found along other coastal areas of the United States that are more regularly exposed to hurricanes and large storm events (e.g., East Coast and Gulf of Mexico), these plans may not be applicable to the types of coastal hazards faced by Great Lakes marinas. To help prepare Great Lakes marinas for the risks associated with coastal storms, a regionalized ‘coastal storms preparedness, adaptation, and response’ tool will be developed to guide marinas in implementing long-term hazard mitigation. The tool will also provide marinas with the necessary planning resources to properly respond to hazardous storm events. The final guide will be shared throughout the basin via the Great Lakes Clean Marina Network and through regional workshops.
Partner: American Rivers
Geographic scope: Lucas County, OH
Lucas County, OH, experienced 100-year flood events in 2006, 2008 and 2011. These events resulted in the degradation of valuable assets including infrastructure (buildings, bridges, outfalls), as well as water quality in recreational waters and drinking water sources. This project supports the development of green infrastructure planning and implementation in Lucas County by determining how to cost-effectively reduce stormwater run-off using green infrastructure. The Lucas County Sustainability Commission will consider the results of this project in the development of regional run-off reduction goals. This work will be facilitated by the Green Stormwater Infrastructure Task Force in the Lucas County region, which is made up of many partners, including representation from local government, non-governmental organizations, a local land bank, a soil and water conservation district, and academic partners.
Partner: Alger Conservation District
Geographic scope: Au Train, MI
Between two rocky headlands at the mouth of the Au Train River along the south central Lake Superior coastline, lies a picturesque sand pocket beach adjacent to a major state highway, making this an attractive yet challenging coastal setting. Wave action, erosion and the formation of sand bars and ice dams, due to storms over Lake Superior, regularly threaten to undercut the highway. Stakeholders want to prevent an emergency situation where stabilization of the road would require a large installation of riprap, degrading the scenic beach, which is a locally valuable economic resource. This project will contribute to a cooperative, proactive plan for shoreline protection and hazard mitigation while preserving the natural system. A major focus of this effort will be the completion of a high-precision nearshore hydrographic survey, which will be used as input to the Delft3D nearshore hydrodynamic model capable of modeling 3D flows, sediment transport, waves, water quality, morphology, and ecology. The resulting model will provide a detailed picture of the coastal dynamics and associated risks to infrastructure. Risk and vulnerability assessments will also aid community planning decisions for potential mitigation and adaptation strategies to address erosion and flooding in the area.