Storm surge, water level sensors installed in Lake Pontchartrain
By Littice Bacon-Blood, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune
St. John the Baptist Parish and state officials, along with officials from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, gathered Wednesday to dedicate a technological first for the parish – the ability to detect with better accuracy water levels and storm surge height from pending storms.
Water level and weather sensors have been installed in the western portion of Lake Pontchartrain that officials say will improve storm surge modeling and enhance public safety advisories for residents.
"Hurricane Isaac exposed St. John's vulnerability to flooding from Lake Pontchartrain, accentuating the need for real time data to properly plan and prepare for flooding events," Parish President Natalie Robottom said Wednesday (Sept. 23). "The lack of information and storm surge monitoring on the northwest side of the lake resulted in little advance warning of the pending flooding."
The 2012 storm drove four to six feet of water from Lake Pontchartrain and the Lake Maurepas swamp into St. John Parish. The unprecedented surge, overwhelmed LaPlace and parts of Reserve requiring mass evacuation of thousands of residents, many of whom were trapped inside their homes and had to be rescued.
The devastation left in the storm's wake drew a visit from President Barack Obama, and help to fast-track federal plans for a $718 million storm protection levee.
High-tech weather sensor installed along Lake Pontchartrain NOAA and the NWS installed a high-tech weather station along Lake Pontchartrain near Laplace.
The real-time sensors will continuously monitor water levels in the lake, including those produced by storm surge. A meteorological sensor system, installed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service, measures temperature, humidity, wind, rain, and pressure at Frenier Landing in LaPlace. Both sensors are designed to withstand winds of 110 miles per hour, officials said.
"I'd like to thank Ken Graham and his team with the National Weather Service for working cooperatively with NOAA to acquire and install the new storm hardened water levels and storm surge station at LaPlace," Robottom said.