Effects of hurricane Isabel on water levels : data report
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Effects of hurricane Isabel on water levels : data report

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    Hurricane Isabel was the most powerful hurricane of the 2003 season and the first hurricane to make landfall on the east coast of the United States since 1999. After coming ashore on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on 18 September as a Category 2 hurricane, Isabel took a northward track through Virginia, causing high winds, storm surge flooding, and extensive property damage, especially to the electric power delivery network, throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Isabel also had a significant impact on the Delaware River and Bay. The remnants of Isabel crossed Lake Erie late on 19 September setting up a wind-driven oscillation on the lake. The water level stations of the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services (COOPS) recorded varying responses along the coastal ocean, bays, estuaries, and rivers of the U.S. east coast and the Great Lakes caused by the passage of Hurricane Isabel. Thirty coastal stations from Wilmington, NC to Sandy Hook, NJ were strongly affected by the storm and produced water level data from the primary or the backup sensor. Five stations were destroyed by storm surge and two stations experienced an unrecoverable loss of data during the storm. Many of the CO-OPS water level stations collected meteorological data (air temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction) and water temperature during the storm. CO-OPS also had a current meter deployed at a site in mid-Chesapeake Bay during this period which recorded wave and current data throughout the water column, echo amplitudes from backscattering particles in the water column, pressures, and bottom water temperatures. This data report begins with a description of the water level network in place as Hurricane Isabel approached the U.S. east coast and the subsequent response of CO-OPS' stations, equipment, data monitoring systems, staff, and internet websites during the events of 18-19 September. This is followed by a description of the inception, development, and dissipation of the storm system. A major part of the report is an analysis of the coastal water level response to Hurricane Isabel, giving the maximum observed water level recorded at each station. Historical maximum water level records were exceeded at eight stations in the Chesapeake Bay, five stations in the Delaware River and Bay, and at one station in North Carolina on the Atlantic Ocean . Storm surge, defined as the difference between the observed water level and the predicted tide curve, is calculated for each station and the peak storm surges are compared. A subsequent chapter puts the maximum observed water level elevations from Isabel in a geodetic reference frame. The data recorded at the site in midChesapeake Bay are used to sequence the response of the winds, air pressure, currents, waves, and water levels at one location during the progression of the storm. Finally, the maximum observed water level elevations caused by Isabel at four long term stations, with records extending back to at least 70 years, are compared with previous high waterlevels, after correction for the rates of sea level rise in the region.
  • Content Notes:
    Jerry Hovis, William Popovich, Chris Zervas, James Hubbard, H. H. Shih, Peter Stone.

    "April 2004."

    System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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