Gulf's New 'Sentinels' Can Withstand Category 4 Hurricanes

Four new offshore data stations, hardened against hurricanes and dubbed "NOAA Sentinels," are going to measure storm tides and meteorological data in real time at key locations in coastal Mississippi and Louisiana. NOAA dedicated the first of four last week in Bay St. Louis, Miss.

The yellow, 25-foot-tall "Sentinel" will provide water level and weather data to help coastal authorities and the public prepare for and respond to storm tides generated by severe storms. The other Sentinels are being installed in Calcasieu Pass, Amerada Pass, and Shell Beach, La. -- communities that are especially vulnerable to severe storms. "NOAA is committed to providing the public accurate, real-time ocean and coastal water and weather data to support public safety, navigation, and commerce," said John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service. "These new NOAA Sentinels will ensure that critical water and wind information is available during severe storms, when it's needed most."

The four are operated by NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. They are designed to withstand wind and wave action from a Category 4 hurricane, which represents winds from 131 to 155 mph. The stations are mounted on 4-foot-diameter steel posts driven 60-80 feet into the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA said their installation of the stations will be completed by this fall.

"This technology will deliver real-time storm tide data during severe coastal events that will allow emergency managers to take appropriate action and will provide information to help protect life and property," said U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss. "I am pleased NOAA has worked to install these Sentinels at locations off the coast of Mississippi and Louisiana."

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