Rice U. experts available to discuss Hurricane Irma


David Ruth

Rice U. experts available to discuss Hurricane Irma

HOUSTON – (Sept. 8, 2017) – On the heels of Hurricane Harvey, which struck Texas Aug. 26, Hurricane Irma is bearing down on Cuba and Florida this weekend. Flooding and storm surge experts from the Severe Storm Prediction, Education and Evacuations from Disasters (SSPEED) Center are among the Rice University hurricane experts available to comment on Irma.

IRMA approaching Flordia image courtesy NOAAIrma is expected to make landfall in South Florida early Sunday as a Category 4 storm.

Phil Bedient, Rice’s Herman Brown Professor of Engineering, director of the SSPEED Center and designer of the Flood Alert System (FAS4), can discuss flooding issues that arise from tropical depressions, hurricanes and other severe storms.

Bedient holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s and doctorate degrees in environmental engineering from the University of Florida.

Bedient has been widely quoted by the news media in Harvey coverage. Examples can be found in the New York Times, TIME and USA Today.

In his 2012 book, “Lessons from Hurricane Ike,” Bedient and more than 20 other researchers gave a 194-page account of what they learned from studying the 2008 storm that caused nearly $25 billion in damages and killed dozens. Bedient has recently studied the massive flooding from 2015 and 2016 in Houston and Louisiana and can speak to the effects of urban-development practices on these floods.

Jim Blackburn is co-director of Rice’s SSPEED Center, director of Rice’s undergraduate minor in energy and water sustainability, a professor in the practice of environmental law in Rice’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a practicing environmental attorney and owner of a planning firm called Sustainable Planning and Design. He can speak about the impact that widespread property development has had on storm and flood risks in the Houston-Galveston region, and he can address the local, state and federal regulatory measures that were enacted to mitigate those risks. Blackburn also can address the environmental and economic sustainability of regional hurricane protection proposals, including structural options for dikes, levees and gates in and around Galveston Bay and nonstructural alternatives that aim to use coastal wetlands and prairies as natural, protective storm barriers.

Blackburn has been extensively quoted in Harvey news stories by national media in the past two weeks. Examples include NBC News, Washington Post and Houston Chronicle.

To schedule an interview with Bedient, Blackburn or any of the Rice University hurricane experts, contact David Ruth at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.


Image for download:

Irma image courtesy NOAA

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Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,879 undergraduates and 2,861 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.