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ERDC’s modeling helps the Gulf Coast prepare for storms



The Advanced Circulation (ADCIRC) model simulation shows maximum water surface elevations along the Texas Coastline during Hurricane Laura using the National Hurricane Center Advisory 23 consensus track shifted left. Researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center are using numerical modeling systems, like ADCIRC, to help U.S. Army Corps of Engineers districts better prepare for tropical storms by simulating scenarios to look at the possible storm impacts to district maintained and operated structures. (photo courtesy ERDC)

As a tropical system approaches the coastline and the intensity and impact of the storm becomes evident, officials and first responders brace for landfall by staging equipment and readying personnel for the aftermath. To assist in these efforts, researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center use numerical modeling systems to help U.S. Army Corps of Engineers districts better prepare for storms.

The Advanced Circulation model is a higher-order accurate, physics-based and highly parallelized computational model. It is the USACE’s Hydrology, Hydraulics and Coastal Community of Practice preferred model for storm surge and circulation and is considered the industry standard for use.

Earlier this year, as Hurricane Laura approached the gulf coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Hurricane Center began narrowing landfall predictions along the border between Texas and Louisiana. As some of the region fell within the USACE Galveston District’s area of responsibility, they immediately began preparing for the storm.

“We were contacted by the Galveston District through the USACE Reachback Operational Center and asked specifically to run some scenarios for them that would look at the structures they’re in charge of maintaining and operating to see what kind of impacts they could expect,” said Chris Massey, a research mathematician at the ERDC’s Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory. “Specifically, they wanted us to run the consensus track from the NHC.”

Beginning with the NHC’s Advisory 23, CHL began storm surge simulations of Hurricane Laura making use of the ADCIRC mesh for the coast of Texas. That mesh has over 4.5 million nodes and over 8.9 million unstructured triangular elements with element sizes down to 20 meters in some key inland locations.

The ADCIRC model simulations use forcing values from tides, along with wind and surface level atmospheric pressure fields. The wind and pressure time series fields were derived from the NHC forecast advisories and computed by ADCIRC using its internal asymmetric cyclone vortex model.

“We worked with some of our partners at Louisiana State University, the University of Georgia and the Coastal Prediction Restoration Authority in Louisiana to get those winds and pressures,” Massey said. “They have an automated method for generating the necessary wind and pressure field input decks for the model. They were very gracious partners and let us have that setup to get us going to help the district.”

Once they had the consensus track, Massey and his team were able to edit it to alter the track location and the intensity of the storm for several different scenarios to see the impact on district assets.

“By that evening, we had three scenarios simulated with the results handed back over to the district for them to review,” Massey said. “We provided both some static images that showed what the maximum water levels would be, and then we also provided raw data files for them so that they could bring in their Geographic Information Systems with their GIS experts.”

“From the district’s perspective, this is very much operational support,” he added. “They are looking at gate operations, or places that might be potentially compromised during an event, so that they can start to plan and monitor and get things in place — it helps fill in their picture.”

The NHC’s mission is to save lives, mitigate property loss and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses of hazardous tropical weather and by increasing understanding of these hazards. For ERDC and the USACE, the main goal of the ADCIRC model is to augment the information provided by the hurricane center with additional data, providing USACE districts and local partners the ability to make more informed decisions regarding operational structures and support.

“The model allows us to answer questions like when will the highest water levels be coming in, when will that water level get to a threshold height and how long will it be at that height,” Massey said.

“The Galveston District used the ERDC-produced ADCIRC scenarios to make informed operational recommendations to our partners on which areas are safe to position personnel and equipment and where to reposition our assets,” said Coraggio Maglio, Hydraulics and Hydrology branch chief at the Galveston District. “A 30-mile western shift in the hurricane’s landfall location would have had very different consequences for our region. When looking at overtopping scenarios for leveed areas, a single additional foot in total stormwater level can be a significant consideration.”

“The ADCIRC capabilities are important for all of our districts when they are planning operations and responses, because the model allows us to potentially shore up areas that may have been weakened,” Massey said. “It helps with planning, which can prevent further disaster, or positioning of resources for use after the fact.”

“The ability to provide this data to the officials in East Texas was vital during Hurricane Laura,” said Alicia Rea, Galveston District director of Emergency Management and Security. “Our district Commander Col. Tim Vail rode out the storm in Orange, Texas, with local officials at the Orange County Emergency Operations Center. He was able to provide our data in real time, which allowed the local officials to make quick and effective decisions. The work our team did during Laura will help foster our relationships along the Texas Coast well into the future.”

“This modelling effort really just supports the mission of the USACE in terms of flood risk management for the communities,” Massey said. “ERDC is here to bring our expertise to help our districts during this kind of situation ⸺ that’s the purpose of the UROC. We are here to support the operational needs of our districts for specific scenarios that involve specific district interests.”


High speed chase ends in fiery crash



(photo by David Day)

A high-speed chase Saturday evening that began near the Waffle House in Vicksburg has ended in a crash in Claiborne County and a vehicle in flames.

First reports indicate the incident began around 5:10 p.m. as an argument at the Waffle House at 4100 Pemberton Square Blvd. A man and woman left the scene and stopped at a Shell gas station on U.S. Highway 61 South where the man pulled the woman, who is pregnant, out of the vehicle by her hair.

The man, Bojara O’Quinn of Claiborne County, then fled, leading Vicksburg police officer Michael Battle on a high-speed chase south on 61 South. The chase exceeded 110 mph at times.

The chase ended just inside the Claiborne County line on Shiloh Road in a crash where the vehicle, reportedly a rental with Illinois plates, burst into flames. The crash occurred right at 5:30 p.m.

O’Quinn is in custody and received minor injuries in the crash. The woman involved received very minor injuries and is apparently safe.

Deputies with the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Claiborne County Sheriff’s Department, and troopers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol assisted in O’Quinn’s capture.

Bojara O’Quinn (photo by David Day)

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Woman in custody for Friday’s shooting over a parking space



UPDATE: Akeyah Daniels, 26, of Vicksburg, appeared before Judge Penny Lawson on Saturday in Vicksburg Municipal Court. Lawson set her bond at $50,000 and bound her over to the Warren County grand jury.

Original story:

The woman is in custody in connection with a shooting that occurred Friday, allegedly over a parking space.

The shooting took place around 3:30 p.m. Friday at an apartment building at 2230 Grove St. in Vicksburg.

Akeyah Daniels, 26, turned herself in to Vicksburg police officers at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 28. She was arrested at the police station.

Three men were also briefly detained and released in connection with the shooting, according to the Vicksburg police.

Daniels faces one count of drive-by shooting is being held without bond until her initial appearance, which is taking place Saturday.

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Vicksburg entrepreneurs got the basics of business ownership at boot camp



Kendra Reed and Willie Johnson were among the dozen entrepreneurs attending the Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp. (photos submitted)

Last week participants graduated from the first Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp where 12 individuals received information to start or expand their own businesses.

Myra Harris, who recently started a company making masks, joined the boot camp shortly after her grandchildren informed her of the opportunity.

“They provided all the resources you would need to start your business, and they also made themselves available after class just in case you had any questions,” Harris said.

Vicksburg Entrepreneur Boot Camp participants. Top L to R: Marcus Dufour (Vicksburg Warren Partnership), Tim Sanford, Cathy Sanford, Olivia Foshee, Amy Warren, Patricia Anderson, Willie Johnson, Myra Harris, Ginger Donahue (Regions Bank) and Pablo Diaz (Vicksburg Warren Partnership). Bottom L to R: Gwen Green, Kendra Reed, Rob Burnham (Instructor), De’Jonae Curtis and Anthony Curtis. Not pictured William Wooten. (photo courtesy Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce)

Retired businessman Rob Burnham facilitated the class and helped the participants plan out their businesses, assisting with marketing, accounting and distribution. Marcus Dufour and Pablo Diaz from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce hosted the class, bringing in successful entrepreneurs as speakers including Kevin Roberts who owns Fit Chef Catering in Vicksburg.

“Every speaker gave us the opportunity to ask questions, and it definitely gave me the information I need to open a business, and I would recommend the class 100%,” said participant Willie Johnson.

Johnson was born and raised in Vicksburg. He’s now retired from the military and looking to launch a consulting business, which is what led him to attending the boot camp.

By having capable individuals at the boot camp such as James Harper from the Small Business Development Center at Hinds Community College, the participants were able to learn about available grants and other resources for entrepreneurs.

Starting a business can be stressful for first time entrepreneurs, but the boot camp provided planning advice to the participants, breaking down the information that participants need to launch their businesses.

“In the business process of starting and running a business, owners get very busy running the day-to-day aspects,” said boot camp participant Kendra Reed. “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp gave me the chance to step back and plan through the whole process to prepare my new company to be successful.”

Reed is the owner of Delta Dirt Shirt, and she was proud to be a graduating member of the camp.

Now that the camp has ended, the participants are in competition for a $1,000 seed grant for the best business plan presentation. A winner will be announced Dec. 8.

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