S58 Which Hurricane Attributes are most Strongly Correlated with Maximum Storm Surge Height?

Sunday, 10 January 2016
Hall E ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Stephen Kreller, University of Louisiana Monroe, Monroe, LA; and K. D. Leppert II and L. J. Hopper Jr.

Storm surge causes the most fatalities and property damage associated with hurricanes, so understanding which characteristics of hurricanes are associated with the strongest surge is important. This project correlates storm surge height with many attributes of landfalling U.S. hurricanes from 1950-2012, including maximum and landfalling wind speed and minimum and landfalling sea level pressure. Maximum storm surge data were obtained from Louisiana State University's “SURGEDAT” database and the maximum wind speed and minimum sea level pressure at landfall and any point during the storm were determined using the NOAA HURDAT database. Storm surge height was also correlated with storm diameter, circumference, area, and wind field symmetry at landfall based on wind field shapefiles gathered from the NOAA Atlantic, Oceanographic, and Meteorological Laboratories (AOML) site. Other factors correlated with storm surge height include angle between the track of the hurricane and the coast at landfall, the Hurricane Severity Index (HSI), and Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). Results suggest that wind field diameter for major hurricanes (i.e., Saffir-Simpson category 3-5) has the highest correlation with storm surge with an R-value of 0.79, and landfall pressure has the next highest correlation for all storms with an R-value of 0.52. Other factors had little to no correlation with surge height, such as tropical storm wind field size (R-value of 0.06) and angle of impact along the coast for all storms (R-value of 0.004). Thus, results suggest that for storms of all intensities, storm surge height is most (least) correlated with storm intensity at landfall (angle at which a storm approaches the coastline). In addition, the storm characteristics that appear to be most important for determining maximum surge height vary depending on storm intensity. Future research will evaluate the possible relation between surge height and depth of convection, coastline features (i.e. inlets, peninsulas, swamp, marsh or barrier islands), and bathymetry.
- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner