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EXPLORE NORTHEASTERN

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Excerpt: 

As Hurricane Ida’s blistering 150-mile-per-hour winds and 15-foot storm surge raced toward Louisiana early Sunday morning, Northeastern engineering professor Qin Jim Chen was wide awake in Boston coordinating a last-minute bid to capture critical data from the eye of the Category 4 storm.

The wind, wave, and surging tide measurements will be used to bolster levees, update urban planning and, it is hoped, save lives, says Chen, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northeastern. The information also can be used to help avoid the rampant flooding and property damage that left thousands in Louisiana without power.

Chen, as part of a federally funded project called Nearshore Extreme Events Reconnaissance Association, worked with a team of researchers from Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge and the University of Florida. The team navigated tricky terrain to physically install the gauges only hours before the storm made landfall.

News@Northeastern talked to Chen about the sometimes dangerous process of collecting hurricane information, and how the data can aid coastal cities and towns facing a growing number of destructive hurricanes.