Poster Session P2H.3 Tree damage in Quintana Roo, Mexico caused by Hurricane Dean (2007)

Thursday, 1 May 2008
Palms ABCD (Wyndham Orlando Resort)
Corene J. Matyas, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Handout (166.9 kB)

Hurricane Dean made landfall near Costa Maya, Mexico on 21 August 2007, and is the third most intense hurricane to make landfall in the Atlantic Basin. A survey of forest and agriculture damage was completed three weeks post-landfall by a team of researchers from the University of Florida, El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, and the University of Virginia. A quantification of damage to forests is used to approximate the location of the eye and maximum winds as Dean tracked inland. The research team surveyed damage along two transects perpendicular to Dean's path at a distance of approximately 60 km (T1) and 160 km (T2) from the coastline. Data were collected every 5 km and include the elevation and photographs of the site, the percentage of trees that were uprooted and snapped, the orientation of the damage, and the height of the remaining trees. These data were compared to the intensity and location of the circulation center according to the advisories issued by the National Hurricane Center. Damage was oriented in two directions along a 15 km stretch of T1, indicating that the circulation center passed very close to this portion of the transect. Extensive defoliation and snapping of large branches occurred north (south) of the circulation center when winds blew from the northeast (southwest). Along T2, the radius of maximum winds was located approximately 10 km north of the circulation center. A high correlation between elevation and damage severity existed along T2 as elevation decreased by 150 m over the 70 km span of the transect. The results of this study will be combined with remotely-sensed data and interviews with local residents to assess the short and long-term effects caused by Dean's passage though Quintana Roo.
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