19 Mar 2024
 | 19 Mar 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Storm surge frequency, magnitude, and cumulative storm beach impact along the U.S. east coast

Rachele Dominguez, Michael Fenster, and John McManus

Abstract. This study extracted historical water level data from 12 National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration tide gauge stations, spanning the period from the early 20th century to 2022 from central Maine to southern Florida, in order to determine if temporal and spatial trends existed in frequency and magnitude of storms along the U.S. Atlantic Ocean coast. We used the Storm Erosion Potential Index (SEPI) to identify and quantify storms. We then use the timing and magnitude of those storms to determine the cumulative effect of storm clustering and large magnitude storms on sandy beaches using the cumulative storm impact index (CSII) empirical model. The results from this study showed (1) no appreciable increase in storm frequency at any of the stations (except for sheltered stations susceptible to storm tide augmentation); (2) statistically significant, but modest increases in storm magnitudes over time for eight of the 12 tidal stations; (3) regional differences in storm magnitudes (SEPI) and cumulative storm impacts (CSII) characteristic of more frequent extratropical storms (temporal clustering) in the north and less frequent tropical storms in the south; and (4) a four to 10 year recovery period for regional beach recovery.

Rachele Dominguez, Michael Fenster, and John McManus

Status: open (until 15 May 2024)

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Rachele Dominguez, Michael Fenster, and John McManus
Rachele Dominguez, Michael Fenster, and John McManus


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Short summary
This paper answers questions about potential climate-induced changes to the storminess along the U.S. east coast and the impact of storms on U.S. east coast beaches. We found that the number of storms that occur annually have not increased over time, but storm strength has increased, albeit modestly, over time. There is also variation in these patterns geographically. Finally, the cumulative impact of successive and large storms can impact beaches for up to 10 years.