Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-251
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2021-251

  07 Sep 2021

07 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Tropical cyclone storm surge probabilities for the east coast of the United States: A cyclone-based perspective

Katherine L. Towey1, James F. Booth1,2, Alejandra Rodriguez Enriquez3, and Thomas Wahl3 Katherine L. Towey et al.
  • 1Earth and Environmental Science, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, New York, NY, 10016, USA
  • 2Earth and Atmospheric Science, The City College of New York, City University of New York, New York, NY, 10031, USA
  • 3Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering and National Center for Integrated Coastal Research, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, 32816, USA

Abstract. To improve our understanding of the influence of tropical cyclones (TCs) on coastal flooding, the relationships between storm surge and TC characteristics are analyzed for the east coast of the United States. Using observational data, the statistical dependencies of storm surge on TCs are examined for these characteristics: distance from TC center, TC intensity, track path angle, and propagation speed. Statistically significant but weak linear correlations are found for nearly all sites. At each location, storm surge is influenced differently by these characteristics, with some locations more strongly influenced by TC intensity and others by the distance from the TC center. The correlation for individual and combined TC characteristics increases when conditional sorting is applied to isolate strong TCs close to a location, though the fraction of surge variance explained is never greater than 60 %. The probabilities of TCs generating surge exceeding specific return levels (RLs) are then analyzed for TCs that pass within 500 km of a location, where between 7 % and 26 % of TCs were found to cause surge exceeding the 0.5-yr RL. If only the closest and strongest TCs are considered, the percentage of TCs that generate surge exceeding the 0.5-yr RL is between 30 % and 50 % at sites north of Sewell’s Point, VA, and over 70 % at almost all sites south of Charleston, SC. Overall, this analysis demonstrates that no single TC characteristic dictates how much surge will be generated and offers a unique perspective on surge probabilities that is based on all TCs rather than focusing only on those that cause extreme surge.

Katherine L. Towey et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2021-251', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 Oct 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Katherine Towey, 24 Nov 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2021-251', Anonymous Referee #2, 06 Oct 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Katherine Towey, 24 Nov 2021

Katherine L. Towey et al.

Katherine L. Towey et al.

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Short summary
Coastal flooding due to storm surge is a significant hazard from tropical cyclones. The influence of tropical cyclone characteristics, including its distance, intensity, direction of movement, and speed, on the magnitude of storm surge are examined along the eastern United States. No individual tropical cyclone characteristic was found to dictate how much surge can occur at a site, though there is an increased likelihood of moderate surge occurring when tropical cyclones are close and strong.
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