Large-scale edge waves generated by hurricane landfall

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Abstract

[1] Direct observations of the storm surge induced by Hurricane Wilma's landfall revealed a formation of a wave pulse propagating alongshore. The height of the wave pulse exceeded 1.5 m in the detided sea level. The duration of this wave pulse was ∼6 h and the propagation speed was of O(10) m s−1. This wave has been identified as an edge wave of large spatial and temporal scales. A set of numerical experiments has been conducted to delineate a generation of edge waves with large spatial and temporal scales by a fast-moving storm system. The model of the coastal ocean was set in a two-dimensional configuration with the continental shelf and slope topography reminiscent of the West Florida shelf. A moving cyclonic system in the gradient wind balance was prescribed analytically. In order to identify a long wave response in the model, a linear boundary problem was solved, yielding dispersion characteristics and a structure of the edge wave modes. A fast-moving storm system crossing the shelf at a right angle produces a nearly symmetrical response of two edge wave trains propagating both downstream (in the direction of a Kelvin wave) and upstream. Typically, zero-mode edge waves dominate the response. As the translation speed of the storm becomes lower, its Eulerian timescale becomes longer and the waves are more affected by the Earth's rotation. In that case, the wave energy propagates predominantly downstream. When the storm trajectory deviates from the normal approach, the edge wave response is not symmetric: most of the energy propagates in the direction of the alongshore component of the storm translation velocity.

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