03 Apr 2023
 | 03 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Total water levels along the South Atlantic Bight during three along-shelf propagating tropical cyclones: relative contributions of storm surge and wave runup

Chu-En Hsu, Katherine Serafin, Xiao Yu, Christie Hegermiller, John C. Warner, and Maitane Olabarrieta

Abstract. Total water levels (TWLs), including the contribution of wind waves, associated with tropical cyclones (TC) are among the most damaging hazards faced by coastal communities. According to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC; Masson-Delmotte et al., 2021), TC–induced damages are expected to increase because of stronger TC intensity, sea level rise, and increased populations along the coasts. TC intensity, translation speed, and distance to the coast affect the magnitude and duration of increased TWLs and wind waves. Under climate change, the proportion of high–intensity TCs are projected to increase globally (IPCC; Masson-Delmotte et al., 2021), whereas the variation pattern of TC translation speed also depends on regions (Yamaguchi et al., 2020). There is an urgent need to improve our understanding of the linkages among TC characteristics and TWL components. In the past years, hurricanes Matthew (2016), Dorian (2019), and Isaias (2020) propagated over the South Atlantic Bight (SAB) with similar paths but resulted in different coastal impacts. We combined in situ observations and numerical simulations with the Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere–Wave–Sediment Transport (COAWST) modeling system to analyze the extreme TWLs under the three TCs. Model verification showed that the TWL components were well reproduced by the present model setup. Our results showed that peak TWL depends mainly on the TC intensity, the distance to the TC eye, and the TC heading direction. A decrease of TC translation speed primarily led to longer exceedance duration of TWL, which may lead to more severe damage. Wave–dependent water level components (i.e., wave setup and wave swash) were found to dominate the peak TWL within the near–TC wave field (60 %). Our results also showed that in specific conditions, the pre–storm wave runup associated with the TC–induced swell may lead to TWLs higher than at the peak of the storm. This was the case along the SAB during Hurricane Isaias. Isaias’s fast TC translation speed and the fact that its swell was not blocked by any islands were the main factors contributing to these peak TWLs ahead of the storm peak.

Chu-En Hsu et al.

Status: open (until 18 Jun 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on nhess-2023-49', Juan Felipe Paniagua-Arroyave, 09 Apr 2023 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2023-49', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 May 2023 reply

Chu-En Hsu et al.

Chu-En Hsu et al.


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Short summary
We analyzed how tropical cyclone (TC) characteristics affect total water level components. We used a numerical model to simulate surges and wind waves in the South Atlantic Bight (SAB) during hurricanes Matthew 2016, Dorian 2019, and Isaias 2020. We compared the water levels along the SAB. As the TCs approached, the water levels were affected by the instantaneous wind speed and the TC locations. To quantify the individual effects of TC properties on water levels, further analysis is required.