Storm wave runups and sea level variations for the September 2017 Hurricane Maria along the coast of Dominica, eastern Caribbean sea: Evidence from field surveys and sea-level data analysis

Mohammad Heidarzadeh, Richard Teeuw, Simon Day, Carmen Solana

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28 Citations (SciVal)

Abstract

Dominica, along with several other Caribbean islands, was severely damaged by category-5 Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The hurricane left 68 people dead or missing, marking Maria as the worst natural catastrophe to hit this small island nation. Here, we report the results of our coastal runup field survey in February 2018 and of tide gauge sea-level data analysis. Analysis of tide gauge records shows that the duration of Maria's surge varied between 2.1 and 2.6 days in the Caribbean region and was 2.1 days at Marigot, Dominica. The surge amplitude was 75 cm in Marigot, which indicates that the size of the surge was small for a category-5 hurricane. The measured field survey runups were from 1.0 to 3.7 m, with the maximum runup at Scotts Head on the southern tip of Dominica. The largest measured runups were concentrated along the west coast of the southern half of the island and consistently decreased northwards. We attribute the observed damage to coastal structures to four mechanisms: surge/wave erosion; surge/wave forces/impacts; debris impacts to coastal structures involving in particular floating tree debris brought to the sea by river floods associated with Hurricane Maria; and intense coastal sedimentation, involving sediment brought to the sea by river floods. A flowchart of the hurricane-driven damage mechanisms is presented which provides the propagating sequence, or cascade, of events that contributed to damage and emphasizes the interactions between different processes in the hurricane.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-384
Number of pages14
JournalCoastal Engineering Journal
Volume60
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
supported by the Brunel University London through the Brunel Research Initiative and Enterprise Fund 2017/18 (BUL BRIEF);Brunel University London [Brunel Research Initiative and Enterprise Fund 2017/18 (BUL BRIEF)];Natural Environment Research Council [NE/R016968/1];

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of the United Kingdom, under grant number NE/R016968/1. MH was also partially

Funding Information:
This project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) of the United Kingdom, under grant number NE/R016968/1. MH was also partially supported by the Brunel University London through the Brunel Research Initiative and Enterprise Fund 2017/18 (BUL BRIEF);Brunel University London [Brunel Research Initiative and Enterprise Fund 2017/18 (BUL BRIEF)];Natural Environment Research Council [NE/R016968/1];

Funding Information:
The tide gauge data for Guadeloupe (two stations), Portsmouth (Dominica) and Martinique were provided by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s global sea level data (http://www.ioc-sealevelmonitoring.org/). Michael Fedak (World Bank) supplied the tide gauge data for Marigot (Dominica) (https://geomatica.port-log.net/dominica/map. php). The hurricane track data was from the website of the USA National Hurricane Center (https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/). Most figures were drafted using the GMT software (Wessel and Smith 1998). We are grateful for the support provided by the Dominica Ministry of Housing, Lands & Water Resources, the Ministry of Public Works and Ports, the Land Survey Department, the Department of Physical Planning and the Department of Local Government. We wish to thank the many Dominican people who assisted us in conducting this field survey, notably Wayne Abraham, Don Corriette, Kennedy Ferguson and Rob Watts; as well as Toby Meredith and Paul Weber of Portsmouth University, UK. Finally, we would like to thank three anonymous reviewers, whose comments and suggestions improved the final version of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

Keywords

  • 2017 Hurricane Maria
  • Caribbean sea
  • Coastal infrastructures
  • Dominica
  • Storm surge
  • Wave runup

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Ocean Engineering

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