Monday, February 1, 2016

Topography-Based Analysis of Hurricane Katrina Inundation of New Orleans

 In the few days that follow a natural disaster, especially a hurricane, it is vital to have correct diagnostic information about the affected land in order to initiate an appropriate relief response. In the last 10 years, development of light detection and ranging technology, or lidar, has developed into a huge asset that can provide high resolution, high accuracy data about the terrain.

In 2002, elevation data was collected for southern Louisiana by the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s office. This data was created into a map that served as the starting point to calculate the extent and depth of water inundation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Using flood water gauges, the elevation of water and the floodwater volume were estimated by comparing elevations from the 2002 base map, which were later verified with aerial photography several years later.

By using highly detailed topographic data paired with real-time gauge data, a map of inundation can be analyzed quickly and efficiently to provide adequate response to the disaster. It also serves as a historic database for future natural disaster response teams and analysis. Lidar is valuable to spacial detail and mapping data, but also recovery efforts to restore land and urban areas that have been affected by a disaster.

Gesch, D. (2005). Topography-based analysis of Hurricane Katrina inundation of New Orleans. Science and the Storms: the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of, 53-56.

I have acted with honesty and integrity in producing this work and am unaware of anyone who has not. Mattie Cryer


  1. It is really interesting to see that they used LiDar to measure they depth of water. Were these maps and this technology primarily used to help rescue efforts right after the hurricane hit? Or was it primary created to be used as a reference to help strengthen infrastructure and prevent such inundation?

  2. Interesting to see how GIS could have been used to increase response times for victims hit the hardest by the hurricane.