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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Today is the first day of our annual festival "Pirates Week" so there's not many people around.
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Quoting Grothar:


Passed by the theater earlier. Lines all around. I think people enjoy disasters.
It seems like it. Not something I would like to contemplate.
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Quoting Grothar:


Little chilly for the Islands isn't it? It has been the same here in Lauderdale. Really great day. Hardly a breeze.
The weather is great. Current temperature is 75 and winds about 15 mph.
It doesn't last though. Soon be hot again.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
It hasn't come here yet.


Passed by the theater earlier. Lines all around. I think people enjoy disasters.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting stormwatcherCI:
Not bad. We actually had some cool weather here last night. It got down to 67 and supposed to go down tonight again.


Little chilly for the Islands isn't it? It has been the same here in Lauderdale. Really great day. Hardly a breeze.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting Grothar:
Anyone seen 2012 yet?
It hasn't come here yet.
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Anyone seen 2012 yet?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting Grothar:


I guess everyone is just lurking. How are you CI?
Not bad. We actually had some cool weather here last night. It got down to 67 and supposed to go down tonight again.
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Quoting stormwatcherCI:
I am here too but just lurking. Hi Grothar and Hades.


I guess everyone is just lurking. How are you CI?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting Grothar:


Hey, Hades, where is everyone?
I am here too but just lurking. Hi Grothar and Hades.
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511. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
hello

no idea it has been very quiet here today
Member Since: Μάιος 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
Grother, yes Moderate Tropical Storm Anja (04-20092010) in the south west indian ocean


Hey, Hades, where is everyone?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
509. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Grother, yes Moderate Tropical Storm Anja (04-20092010) in the south west indian ocean
Member Since: Μάιος 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907


Next weekend GFS

not even funny...
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Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


TC Anja. Really is beautiful. Forecasted to become a Category one before recurving and weakening.


Indian Ocean?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting Grothar:


Nice storm, what is it?


TC Anja. Really is beautiful. Forecasted to become a Category one before recurving and weakening.
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Quoting tornadodude:


Nice storm, what is it?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
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Opps
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Seismic Monitor

AOI

AOI

Humor in Comments
Tropical Cyclones: Physics, Energetics and Mechanics, Posted by: Weather456, 11:24 AM GMT on October 25, 2009
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So here it is.
Member Since: Ιούλιος 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
It's time for a new page!
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Room for improvement?

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498. beell
The 12Z GFS also supports something similar.
Mid/Upper level low well on its way to being totaly cut-off and south of the westerlies. Bobbing along to the E while filling in.

If any surface expression remains tied to this it should suffer a similar fate-dissipation and off to the NE. Probably the most likely outcome.

At the surface, not so clear cut if something manages to survive and become detached from the predominate winter time westerlies.

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We got some serious rain coming down in Dover, NH and it has not stopped since 9:00am
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Of course, it would be interesting if convection grew and organized in the center as the center moved south, and then the center began heading to the west ;)


You must be looking at the 12Z CMC
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Of course, it would be interesting if convection grew and organized in the center as the center moved south, and then the center began heading to the west ;)



Wishcast much? Lol j/k
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494. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Member Since: Μάιος 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
493. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number THREE
TEMPETE TROPICALE MODEREE ANJA (04-20092010)
22:00 PM Réunion November 14 2009
=========================================

At 18:00 PM, Moderate Tropical Storm Anja (991 hPa) located at 13.1S 70.7E has 10 minute sustained winds of 40 knots with gusts of 60 knots. The cyclone is reported as moving south at 4 knots.

RSMC Dvorak Intensity: T3.0

Gale-force winds
==================
within the center

Near Gale-force winds
======================
60 NM from the center extending up to 180 NM from the center in southwest quadrant

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 13.3S 70.5E - 55 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
24 HRS: 13.5S 70.0E - 60 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
48 HRS: 15.1S 67.5E - 75 kts (Cyclone Tropical)
72 HRS: 17.5S 64.9E - 45 kts (Tempête Tropicale Moderée)

Additional Information
========================
The system is deepening rapidly and is tracking slowly south southwest. The last animated satellite imagery shows a building hot spot.

Environmental conditions remains very favorable, with a good equatorward inflow, a very good polar inflow thanks to the subtropical high pressures center moving just south of the system. The system is now under an upper level ridge, with two efficient upper level outflow equatorward and polewards. Environmental conditions are expected to remain very favorable within the next 48 hours at least.

This system is expected to track slowly generally west southwestward within the next 24 hours, and then accelerate southwest, its steering is a mid latitudes ridge in its south that will move in its east progressively.

the next Tropical Cyclone Advisory will be issued at around 0:30 AM (15NOV)
Member Since: Μάιος 24, 2006 Posts: 52 Comments: 46907
492. beell
Quoting P451:


Yeah it has been a problem throughout the tidewater region of Virginia and the Chesapeake region of Maryland. They started taking note of it back in the 60s. It's continued. The land is sinking and being eroded away. It's not going to stop.

There's been a few discovery/history channel programs on them detailing it. Interviewing locals who show where their land once went out to and how it's right up to their homes now on the bays.

It's a natural occurance in that region. Sea level rising doesn't help the situation either but this is nothing new. It's a part of the region and how it was made and remakes itself over time. Much how barrier islands migrate.

The difference now is the land is populated whereas just a few hundred years ago it wasn't and was allowed to do what it has done for thousands of years.


Interesting to ponder. Sea level rise/Subsidence. Pretty complicated set of rules in place to separate the two and to tie the tidal data into a global network. Based on the previous 19 years of data. Throw in land emergence in other areas and it should be easy to make a nice living off grant money for a lifetime.

Chesapeake Bay, along with most of the U.S. East Coast, falls within a region where the crust is sinking – adding to the effect of a global rise in sea level. However, in many parts of the U.S. West Coast, and especially in Alaska, the crust is actually emerging faster than the global sea level rise rate.

Link
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Quoting Grothar:


Good images. Thanks!

Ditto! That sea swell!

Okay, I have to go again. I also am interested to see if there will be any development, re-development I guess? See everyone later. I've posted way TMI today, I'm afraid.
Member Since: Αύγουστος 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting Cotillion:
Few images of damage from yesterday and overnight:

Link


Good images. Thanks!
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting P451:
Just an incredible size...from a tiny vortcane to this.



Lot of dry air around it, though. Think it could still develop?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

Pause was because I was looking up John Cusack's age. Guess what, my hubby is just 2 years older than Mr. Cusack. I guess you'd say one of my role models is Susan Sarandon (that's the nicest way I can put it, for the blog's sake)(big smile).

I'm waiting to see if any Mid-Atlantic states get major disaster declarations to allow more federal assistance.


Aha, but at least Tim Robins is gray!!!!
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Few images of damage from yesterday and overnight:

Link
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Quoting TheoJesse:
Patrap or anyone else
Is that an ULL I see building in Mexico West of the BOC?
Thanks
Jesse


Certainly looks like one.

Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting Grothar:


Nana, you shouldn't be looking at young guys!!! What kind of example are you trying to set?

Pause was because I was looking up John Cusack's age. Guess what, my hubby is just 2 years older than Mr. Cusack. I guess you'd say one of my role models is Susan Sarandon (that's the nicest way I can put it, for the blog's sake)(big smile).

I'm waiting to see if any Mid-Atlantic states get major disaster declarations to allow more federal assistance.
Member Since: Αύγουστος 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Patrap or anyone else
Is that an ULL I see building in Mexico West of the BOC?
Thanks
Jesse
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Quoting P451:


Nothing to talk about I suppose. The last two blogs have been primarily off topic talk. Now with Ida winding down there really isn't much to discuss.

Not until the first big coastal winter storm I suppose.


That is a long time to wait P451. I am sure we can talk about something substantive!
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
Quoting AwakeInMaryland:

Hi, Grothar,

Beats me! But I might venture a guess -- at the cheaper afternoon opening of the movie 2012! I don't know about the movie, but John Cusack is easy on the eyes!


Nana, you shouldn't be looking at young guys!!! What kind of example are you trying to set?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
whoops double post
Member Since: Αύγουστος 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
Quoting Grothar:
No posts in 1 hour????? Where is everybody?

Hi, Grothar,

Beats me! But I might venture a guess -- at the cheaper afternoon opening of the movie 2012! I don't know about the movie, but John Cusack is easy on the eyes!
Member Since: Αύγουστος 19, 2008 Posts: 32 Comments: 1918
No posts in 1 hour????? Where is everybody?
Member Since: Ιούλιος 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27208
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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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