06 Apr 2022
06 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Hazard assessment and hydrodynamic, morphodynamic, and hydrological response to Hurricanes Gamma and Delta, on the northern Yucatan peninsula

Alec Torres-Freyermuth1,3, Gabriela Medellín1,3, Jorge A. Kurczyn1,3, Roger Pacheco-Castro2,3, Jaime Arriaga2,4, Christian M. Appendini1,3, María Eugenia Allende-Arandía1,3, Juan A. Gómez1,3, Gemma L. Franklin2,3, and Jorge Zavala-Hidalgo5 Alec Torres-Freyermuth et al.
  • 1Laboratorio de Ingeniería y Procesos Costeros, Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Sisal, Yucatán, 97835, México
  • 2CONACYT- Laboratorio de Ingeniería y Procesos Costeros, Instituto de Ingeniería, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Sisal, Yucatán, 97835, México
  • 3Laboratorio Nacional de Resiliencia Costera, Laboratorios Nacionales CONACYT, México
  • 4Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, 2628 CN Delft, The Netherlands
  • 5Instituto de Ciencias de la Atmósfera y Cambio Climático, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Coyoacán, Ciudad de México, 04510, México

Abstract. Barrier islands in tropical regions are prone to coastal flooding and erosion during hurricane events. The Yucatan coast, characterized by karstic geology and the presence of barrier islands, was impacted by Hurricanes Gamma and Delta in October 2020. Inner shelf, coastal, and inland observations were acquired simultaneously near a coastal community (Sisal, Yucatan) located within 150 km of the hurricanes’ tracks. In the study area, Gamma moved at a slow speed and induced heavy rain, mixing in the shelf sea, and northern winds exceeding 20 m s-1. Similar wind and wave conditions were observed at this location during the passage of Hurricane Delta. However, a higher storm surge (0.5 m) was measured due to wind setup and the drop (< 1000 mbar) in atmospheric pressure. Beach morphology changes, based on GPS measurements conducted before and after the passage of the storms, show alongshore gradients ascribed to the presence of coastal structures and macrophyte wracks on the beach face. Moreover, net onshore sediment transport during the storm contributes to the increase in beach elevation. Urban flooding occurred mainly on the back-barrier associated with heavy rain and the confinement of the coastal aquifer which prevented rapid infiltration. Two different modeling systems, aimed at providing coastal flooding early warning and coastal hazards assessment, presented difficulties in forecasting the coastal hydrodynamic response during these seaward translating events, regardless of the grid resolution and wind forcing employed. Compound flooding plays an important role in this region and hence must be incorporated in future modeling efforts.

Alec Torres-Freyermuth et al.

Status: open (until 15 Jun 2022)

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Alec Torres-Freyermuth et al.

Alec Torres-Freyermuth et al.


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Short summary
The effects of storms on ocean currents, waves, beach, and groundwater level were measured for a barrier island. Significant changes on coastal currents and water levels were observed. Seagrass wrack was found to protect the beach during storms. Flooding originated from the wetlands due to heavy rainfall. Computational simulations predicted that major hazards occurred near the wetlands, however they were not able to reproduce the measured data, highlighting the need of detailed wind information.