Record storm surges hit Mid-Atlantic coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 04:22 PM GMT on Νοέμβριος 13, 2009

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Record storm surges have caused major flooding along the North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware coasts over the past 24 hours, thanks to the powerful winds of a slow-moving Nor'easter energized by the remains of Hurricane Ida. Norfolk, Virginia, suffered its highest storm surge on record last night, when a surge of 5.96 feet hit the Sewells Point tide station. The previous record was 5.62' during Hurricane Isabel of 2003, with the Chesapeake-Atlantic Hurricane of 1933 close behind at 5.61'. Last night's peak surge did not hit at high tide, and the storm tide--the combination of surge plus the tide--peaked at 7.74' above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW), slightly below the 7.89' storm tide of Hurricane Isabel.


Figure 1. Rain gauge-measured precipitation from Ida-extratropical for the 24 hours ending at 7 am EST this morning. The storm dumped copious amounts of rain over a wide swath of coast. Image credit: NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service.

The highest storm surges at Sewell's Point tide gauge in Norfolk, Virginia since 1927:

5.96' Nov 2009 Ida-extratropical
5.62' Sep 2003 Hurricane Isabel
5.61' Aug 1933 Chesapeake-Atlantic Hurricane
4.73' Sep 1933 Hurricane 13, Cat 1)
4.66' Mar 1962 Ash Wednesday Nor'easter
4.05' Sep 1936 (Hurricane 13, Cat 2)

Top storm tides in Norfolk history:

1933 hurricane (Aug 23rd 1933)..............8.9 feet MLLW
April 11th 1956 Nor'easter..................8.0 feet MLLW
Hurricane Isabel (Sep 18th 2003)............7.9 feet MLLW
Ida-extratropical (Nov 12th 2009)...........7.8 feet MLLW
Ash Wednesday storm (Mar 7th 1962)..........7.8 feet MLLW

Serious coastal flooding is occurring from northern North Carolina to the Delaware/New Jersey border, with record high storm surges recorded at many locations. The storm surge at Lewes Point, Delaware at 9:48 pm EST last night reached 4.63 feet, beating the record high of 4.17' set during the January 4, 1992 Nor'easter. Tide records go back to 1919 at Lewes Point. The highest surge at any of the NOAA-maintained tide gauges from Ida-extratropical was 6.74' at 9:24 pm EST at Money Point, Virginia, located on an inlet about five miles south of downtown Norfolk.

Ida-extratropical also brought hurricane-force wind gusts to the Virginia coast yesterday, with a gust of 75 mph recorded at the Oceana NAS. The Norfolk airport recorded sustained winds of 52 mph, gusting to 70 mph, at the height of the Nor'easter last night. Heavy rains of 6 - 11 inches since Tuesday have created flooding on most of the the rivers along the entire North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland coasts. Ida-extratropical is slowly weakening and pulling away to the northeast, and the rains have ended along most of the coast, though. Virginia has now seen its highest storm surges, but this afternoon's high tide cycle is likely to bring another round of record or near-record storm tides to the coasts of Maryland, Delaware, and extreme southern New Jersey. This afternoon's high tide is forecast to bring a storm tide of 7.6' to Atlantic City, NJ, which would be the 10th highest tide there since 1911, but well short of the record 8.98' storm tide during the December, 1992 Nor'easter. By Saturday, Ida-extratropical will be on its way out to sea, and the storm surges and rains will finally abate.


Figure 2. Predicted storm tide (height above Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW, the lowest tide measured in a full 19-year natural tidal cycle, black line) for Lewes, Delaware (at the mouth of Delaware Bay), as predicted by the GFS model. A storm tide of 8.0 feet is forecast this afternoon during the high tide. For a full description of this plot, see the NOAA Extratropical Surge web site.


Figure 3. Tide gauge trace from the Sewell's Point gauge in Norfolk, VA, shows a storm surge of nearly 6 feet (green line) hit at 8:30 pm EST, with a maximum storm tide of 7.8 feet above MLLW occurring at high tide. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.

Storm surges and sea level rise
The storm surge flooding in the Norfolk area was exacerbated by the fact that sea level has risen and the land has subsided significantly over the past century. Over the past 60 years, absolute sea level along the coast of Virginia has risen by about 2.6 mm/year. However, the relative sea level has risen by 4.44 mm/year since 1927 (Figure 4), meaning that the land has sunk by about 1.84 mm/year. The net result is that the ocean is now about 1.16 feet higher at Norfolk than it was in 1927. The Norfolk tide gauge shows the highest rate of relative sea level rise of any gauge on the U.S. East Coast (though relative sea level rise is much higher along the Gulf Coast, with rises near 3 feet/century at New Orleans). Thus, today's 5+ foot storm surge brought water more than a foot higher in Norfolk than the 5+ foot storm surge of the 1933 hurricane. Storm surge damages will steadily increase along the entire coast this century as sea level rise accelerates and coastal development continues. It is urgent that government take action in coming years to limit development in vulnerable coastal regions. The ocean is going flood our sand castles that we are building in harm's way, at an ever increasing rate.


Figure 4. Monthly mean sea level at the Sewells Point, VA tide gauge in Norfolk, without the regular seasonal fluctuations due to coastal ocean temperatures, salinities, winds, atmospheric pressures, and ocean currents. The long-term linear trend is also shown, including its 95% confidence interval. Relative sea level has increased by 1.16 feet since 1927, the highest rate of rise on the U.S. East Coast. Image credit: NOAA Tides and Currents.

Portlight responding to the flooding in Virginia
Portlight.org is deploying up to 3 self-sufficient mobile kitchens capable of feeding over 2000 people a day to the Virginia coast. They will be providing meals for first responders, volunteers, and, of course, affected residents. Donations are welcome--visit the portlight blog to learn more and make a PayPal donation. Thanks!

Take action: sign the QuikSCAT letter
The QuikSCAT satellite, launched in 1999, provides crucial measurements of surface wind speed and direction over Earth's oceans twice per day. Forecasters world-wide have come to rely on data from QuikSCAT to issue timely warnings and make accurate forecasts of tropical and extratropical storms, wave heights, sea ice, aviation weather, iceberg movement, coral bleaching events, and El Niño. QuikSCAT's antenna is expected to fail within the next six months, according to engineers at NASA/JPL, and QuikSCAT data has already been removed from our global weather forecast models, due to concerns about data reliability.

There exists a narrow window of opportunity in the next few days to get the wheels in motion to launch a QuikSCAT replacement instrument on a Japanese satellite in 2015. The funding for this must start within the next budget cycle, and there is currently no funding in place for a replacement QuikSCAT. If we miss this this opportunity, it may be ten years or more before a QuikSCAT replacement can be launched. To this end, I urge all of you to sign the QuikSCAT funding letter being presented to John Holdren, Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The letter is at: http://coaps.fsu.edu/scatterometry/statement/.

If you agree with the letter, please sign it (via the web site) as soon as possible: there is a very small window of opportunity to influence the next budget cycle, with this window closing within a few days.

Note that to validate your signature you must type the validation code in the bottom box. This code is the word that appears after 'code =', then click on the sign button.

For more information on QuikSCAT, see my post, The case for a new QuikSCAT satellite.


Figure 5. NASA's QuikSCAT satellite, launched in 1999. Image credit: NASA.

Expect a new blog until Monday, when I'll discuss the outlook for the remainder of hurricane season. It is finally over?

Jeff Masters

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421. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number ONE
PERTURBATION TROPICALE 04-20092010
10:00 AM Réunion November 14 2009
=========================================

At 6:00 AM, Tropical Disturbance 04R (1002 hPa) located at 12.8S 71.3E has 10 minute sustained winds of 25 knots with gusts of 35 knots. The disturbance is reported as moving south-southwest at 4 knots.

RSMC Dvorak Intensity: T2.0

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 13.5S 71.4E - 30 kts (Depression Tropicale)
24 HRS: 14.0S 71.7E - 40 kts (Tempête Tropicale Modereé)
48 HRS: 15.2S 72.1E - 50 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
72 HRS: 16.7S 71.3E - 30 kts (Depression Tropicale)

Additional Information
========================
The system has deepen rapidly during the last hours. It is moving slowly south-southwestward, Environmental conditions are expected to remain favorable for intensification within the next 36 hours, with good low layers inflows and a weak vertical wind shear. Sea surface temperatures are superior to 26C north of 16.0S.

Next Tropical Cyclone Advisory will be issued at around 12:30 PM UTC
Member Since: Μάιος 24, 2006 Posts: 51 Comments: 45543






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lol...night my friend.
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Hmm Tim...I will wager you a X-Mas ham that will not happen!


I love ham anyday of the week and would never want to take it from you.....so i will pass on that wager......LOL......NIte GEoff.
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Quoting Grothar:


Is that a nice way of telling me to "Flick my Bic"?? Thanks for the laugh before retiring, and thanks for the updates while I was away. Very thoughtful of you to remember that.


Your welcome my friend..I as well am signing off for the nite....Got a long day tomorrow......Good nite everyone.,,,Watch the Caribbean for things to start happening there by the middle of next week!
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Well, this little elf is off to sleep to dream of Candy Canes and Hurri Canes, thanks to TampaSpin. Thanks for all the laughs, and if none of us is on here tomorrow, we shall all know why. Remember, "tomorrow is another day"!! Take care and stay well.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Plus...the city of New York will find Santa Claus real!
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Hmm Tim...I will wager you a X-Mas ham that will not happen!
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting TampaSpin:


Don't see X Ida moving into the Caribbean and why don't you just hold a cigarette lighter under that turkey for 2 days........LOL


Is that a nice way of telling me to "Flick my Bic"?? Thanks for the laugh before retiring, and thanks for the updates while I was away. Very thoughtful of you to remember that.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
No many how many times I watch "It's
'A Wonderful Life" it still gets to me..."Remeber, no man is a failure who has friends". I think that can apply to this blog also!

Plus...I think it was record snowfall in Beford Falls that year.
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
I'm going to smoke a turkey about the time IDA makes her loop back toward West Palm Beach as a CANE......LOL
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
No many how many times I watch "It's
'A Wonderful Life" it still gets to me..."Remeber, no man is a failure who has friends". I think that can apply to this blog also!


Very nice sentiment for the holidays Geoff, very thoughtful. Even though most of us have never met, it is nice to be able to consider even strangers as friends.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Quoting Grothar:


A little technical question TSpin. If ex-Ida does move south again or something does form in the Caribbean, is it possible to cook a 20 lb Turkey on a sterno plate and for how long?


Don't see X Ida moving into the Caribbean and why don't you just hold a cigarette lighter under that turkey for 2 days........LOL
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Did you all read my blog post today? About my thoughts of the system bounding the outer banks and a name.


Yes, I just didn't understand how the system split like that with energy moving in two different directions. I just don't recall anything like it. As you know, I am no expert. But there it is.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
No many how many times I watch "It's
'A Wonderful Life" it still gets to me..."Remeber, no man is a failure who has friends". I think that can apply to this blog also!
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
I've been lurking here since Wednesday (my daughter lives in Hampton and I wanted flooding news and all that*), but here's my two cents: Best Christmas movie ever: One Magic Christmas.


*requisite mention of weather and AOI
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Quoting TampaSpin:
Looks like all the models have x ida moving out to sea.....not sure that will happen. But you better start looking south again....that big high building over head is going to make life interesting again in the Caribbean sea again.


A little technical question TSpin. If ex-Ida does move south again or something does form in the Caribbean, is it possible to cook a 20 lb Turkey on a sterno plate and for how long?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Looks like all the models have x ida moving out to sea.....not sure that will happen. But you better start looking south again....that big high building over head is going to make life interesting again in the Caribbean sea again.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
I hope not...but here is my ban with 400 posts...



If you get banned for that, then the admin has some real issues.....LOL
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Quoting atmoaggie:

I'll just go ahead and cave in.

I have young kids, so the Tom Hanks - voiced Polar Express. Though I do like the classics, that one has grown on me.

Lots of snow in that one.


:)
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Did you all read my blog post today? About my thoughts of the system bounding the outer banks and a name.
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-----
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting Grothar:


One of my favorites is Joyeux Noel, a true story from World War I. The other is "The Gathering" a TV movie from the 1970's, but great.


A Midnight Clear if you like snowy war stories or, the best xmas movie ever: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation:

Uncle Lewis: Hey Grizz, Bethany and I figured out the perfect gift for you.
Clark: Aw, you didn't have to get me anything.
Uncle Lewis: Dammit, Bethany, he guessed it.

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Quoting atmoaggie:

I'll just go ahead and cave in.

I have young kids, so the Tom Hanks - voiced Polar Express. Though I do like the classics, that one has grown on me.

Lots of snow in that one.


Good cover on that one, at. Yeah, lots and lots of snow. Great movie (with lots of snow.)
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
If Tim says it...I will pay attention.
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Miracle for me...Wonderful to long...To keep a weather topic...(lol) is Ex-Ida going to drift south and reform into something?



Good chance it will have a chance as it moves South into warmer waters. It stayed very energized because of the Gulf Stream loop. NOw its moving into cooler waters but, will be moving into warmer waters the further south it moves.
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Quoting TampaSpin:


Chance it makes a loop back toward Flordia....or the Outer Banks again in 7 days....wouldn't that be something.....Looks like HIGH pressure is going to settle overhead and block it from moving out to sea.


I've got to say it, I just got to say it. You think it will hit S. Florida. There I said it!!
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Want an answer Dec. 1

I'll just go ahead and cave in.

I have young kids, so the Tom Hanks - voiced Polar Express. Though I do like the classics, that one has grown on me.

Lots of snow in that one.
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Quoting Grothar:


Hey T what is your spin on Ex-Ida and what is that feature near Honduras? Anthing we should be concerned about? Nice site!!!!!!


Chance it makes a loop back toward Flordia....or the Outer Banks again in 7 days....wouldn't that be something.....Looks like HIGH pressure is going to settle overhead and block it from moving out to sea.
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Miracle for me...Wonderful to long...To keep a weather topic...(lol) is Ex-Ida going to drift south and reform into something?
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Big argument tonight Tim…..What is the best X-Mas movie?


One of my favorites is Joyeux Noel, a true story from World War I. The other is "The Gathering" a TV movie from the 1970's, but great.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Big argument tonight Tim…..What is the best X-Mas movie?


Its wonderful life! or Miracle on 34th street!
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Want an answer Dec. 1
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting TampaSpin:
New interactive Home page...hope you all like.


Hey T what is your spin on Ex-Ida and what is that feature near Honduras? Anthing we should be concerned about? Nice site!!!!!!
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Big argument tonight Tim…..What is the best X-Mas movie?


Not for me. Official Hurricane season and xmas season do not mix. Period.
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Tough (most-of-a) week:

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Quoting atmoaggie:

Good morning!

Gorgeous pics, Gro.


Glad you enjoyed them. Remember, if you ever go there it is pronounced "Lon Giland. lol
My sister was married to Huey P. Long (the big ones nephew) from Alexandria, when he first came to the Island he was shocked. He visited it often. Fell in love with the people but could never get used to the, uh, bad words people use so commonly. He would just shake his head and laugh.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Big argument tonight Tim…..What is the best X-Mas movie?
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:


No...but I like beautiful pics.


If you ever want the best vacation of your life. You have to go. Endless historical sites and seaside resorts, beaches, restaurants and the friendliest people anywhere. If you can get by the "language" for which they are infamous, you will be treated better than anyplace you have ever been.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
In Poquoson, Wheeler said he was thankful there were no serious injuries. The task of helping people deal with water in their houses and businesses is still ahead.

"But we still feel fortunate because it could have been so much worse," Wheeler said.

http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-local_storm-main_1114nov14,0,7543624.story?page=2

The more I remember about the place and the more I hear or see, the more I am certain that Poquoson and Portlight will be good for one another.
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Not much tropical talk....but a good time.
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Mornin aggie!
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
hi grothar, you he-man.

exhausted from all the weather we've been watching the past coupla weeks. i think everyone needs some chill time. Glad to see ya'll talking all happy and stuff.

So are we gonna have some peaceful weather for a while? please?
Member Since: Αύγουστος 13, 2005 Posts: 166 Comments: 26039
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Think the morning crew may be coming on!

Good morning!

Gorgeous pics, Gro.
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Quoting aquak9:
Good evening, quickly, everyone.

Are we all completely exhausted from the past two weeks here? Whoa, what a way to end Season™.

Now...are we all gonna have some peaceful weather for a while?


Hi aqua! See I remembered, no k. How you doing?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Think the morning crew may be coming on!
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting Grothar:


Ever been there?


No...but I like beautiful pics.
Member Since: Σεπτέμβριος 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11257
Quoting atmoaggie:

Yeah, too bad he isn't here.

Wow. Far cry from barrier island. (And, now that I think about it, Long Island doesn't quite have the right orientation to be a sand deposit island anyway) So what geological process made that part of Long Island the way it is?


Glaciers.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418
Quoting Grothar:
Wish atmoaggie was still on so he could see them. He had asked about the hills on Long Island. He would enjoy them.

Yeah, too bad he isn't here.

Wow. Far cry from barrier island. (And, now that I think about it, Long Island doesn't quite have the right orientation to be a sand deposit island anyway) So what geological process made that part of Long Island the way it is?
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Quoting atmoaggie:

Whew, finally learned my new thing for the day...

Been lurking some today and catching up on things needing doing over the last couple of days.


See the link on #364. Some really nice pictures of the Island. Most people are quite surprised by the natural beauty of the Island. Lakes, forests, hills and the most beautiful beaches in the country. It is also the highest per capita income in the entire U.S. Take a look if you have a chance, you will enjoy them.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 26418

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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