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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-241
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2020-241
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  24 Aug 2020

24 Aug 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

A 30-m scale modeling of extreme gusts during Hurricane Irma (2017) landfall on very small mountainous islands in the Lesser Antilles

Raphaël Cécé1, Didier Bernard1, Yann Krien2, Frédéric Leone3, Thomas Candela3, Matthieu Péroche3, Emmanuel Biabiany1, Gael Arnaud4, Ali Belmadani5, Philippe Palany5, and Narcisse Zahibo1 Raphaël Cécé et al.
  • 1LARGE, University of the French West Indies, 97157 Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, France
  • 2LIENSs UMR 7266 CNRS, University of La Rochelle, 17000 La Rochelle, France
  • 3UMR GRED, University Paul-Valéry-Montpellier, CEDEX 5, 3–34199 Montpellier, France
  • 4MetOcean Solutions, 3225 Raglan, New Zealand
  • 5DIRAG, Météo-France, Fort-de-France CEDEX 97262, Martinique, France

Abstract. In view of the high vulnerability of the Lesser Antilles small islands to cyclonic hazards, realistic very fine scale numerical simulation of hurricane-induced winds is essential to prevent and manage risks. The present innovative modeling aims at combining the most realistic simulated strongest gusts driven by tornado-scale vortices within the eyewall and the most realistic complex terrain effects. The Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model with the Nonlinear Backscatter and Anisotropy (NBA) Large Eddy Simulation (LES) configuration was used to reconstruct the devastating landfall of category 5 Hurricane Irma (2017) on Saint Barthélemy and Saint Martin islands. The results pointed out that the 30-m scale seems necessary to simulate intense 400-m scale vortices leading to extreme peak gusts like 132 m s−1 over sea. Risk areas associated with terrain gust speed-up factors greater than one have been identified for the two islands. The comparison between the simulated gusts and the remote sensing building damages highlighted the major role of structure strength linked with the socio-economic development of the territory. The present modeling method could be easily extended to other small mountainous islands to improve the understanding of observed past damages and to develop safer urban management and appropriate building standards.

Raphaël Cécé et al.

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Short summary
The present innovative modeling aims at combining the most realistic simulated strongest gusts driven by tornado-scale vortices within the eyewall and the most realistic complex terrain effects. The present modeling method could be easily extended to other small mountainous islands to improve the understanding of observed past damages and to develop safer urban management and appropriate building standards.
The present innovative modeling aims at combining the most realistic simulated strongest gusts...
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