ICES Storm Surge Research Defining Feature of Peabody Award

News coverage explaining research conducted by Clint Dawson's research group won a 2017 Peabody Award, widely considered highest award conveyed in broadcast journalism.

A news story explaining the benefits of ICES Professor Clint Dawson's research on hurricane storm surge has won broadcast journalism's highest honor, the Peabody Award.

“Hell and High Water,” an innovative collaboration between ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, won the web category of the 2017 Peabody Awards. The immersive project explored the vulnerability of the Houston area to a large, devastating hurricane. Reported by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune, the piece explained how researchers have warned for years that a hurricane could cripple the region, and wreak havoc on the refineries and storage containers clustered nearby.

The project combined interactive online storm simulations based on complex models created by Dawson's researchers at the ICES' Computational Hydraulics Group. Researcher Jennifer Proft spent several months last year before hurricane season working with ProPublica to prepare the imagery for that feature.

Using computational methods that detail where the surge will be and at what depth, Dawson and his collaborators have helped Texas emergency managers develop hurricane evacuation plans, and studied storm surge for every hurricane to strike the United States since the late 1990s.

In the award-winning feature, the news organizations added arresting photography of the nation’s largest refining and petrochemical complex, and deep reporting to illustrate the breadth of the problem.

After “Hell and High Water” was published, President Obama signed into law a bill to expedite a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study that will determine how best to protect Houston from such a hurricane. The law emerged from a bill that U.S. Sen. John Cornyn filed one month after ProPublica and The Texas Tribune published the joint report.

Posted: April 26, 2017