Extratropical cyclone damage to the seawall in Dawlish, UK: eyewitness accounts, sea level analysis and numerical modelling

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Abstract

The February 2014 extratropical cyclonic storm chain, which impacted the English Channel (UK) and Dawlish in particular, caused significant damage to the main railway connecting the south-west region to the rest of the UK. The incident caused the line to be closed for two months, £50 million of damage and an estimated £1.2bn of economic loss. In this study, we collate eyewitness accounts, analyse sea level data and conduct numerical modelling in order to decipher the destructive forces of the storm. Our analysis reveals that the disaster management of the event was successful and efficient with immediate actions taken to save lives and property before and during the storm. Wave buoy analysis showed that a complex triple peak sea state with periods at 4–8, 8–12 and 20–25 s was present, while tide gauge records indicated that significant surge of up to 0.8 m and wave components of up to 1.5 m amplitude combined as likely contributing factors in the event. Significant impulsive wave force of up to 286 KN was the most likely initiating cause of the damage. Reflections off the vertical wall caused constructive interference of the wave amplitudes that led to increased wave height and significant overtopping of up to 16.1 m3/s/m (per metre width of wall). With this information and our engineering judgement, we conclude that the most probable sequence of multi-hazard cascading failure during this incident was: wave impact force leading to masonry failure, loss of infill and failure of the structure following successive tides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-662
Number of pages26
JournalNatural Hazards
Volume116
Issue number1
Early online date14 Nov 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through a PhD scholarship to Keith Adams.

Funding Information:
We are grateful to Brunel University London for administering the scholarship awarded to KA. The Flow3D-Hydro used in this research for numerical modelling is licenced to Brunel University London through an academic programme contract. We sincerely thank Prof Harsh Gupta (Editor-in-Chief) and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive review comments.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Cyclone
  • Infrastructure
  • Railway
  • Resilience
  • Storm surge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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