Directional spectra of hurricane-generated waves in the Gulf of Mexico



[1] Hurricane-induced directional wave spectra in the Gulf of Mexico are investigated based on the measurements collected at 12 buoys during 7 hurricane events in recent years. Focusing on hurricane-generated wave spectra, we only consider the wave measurements at the buoys within eight times the radius of the hurricane maximum wind speed (Rmax) from the hurricane center. A series of numerical experiments using a third-generation spectral wave prediction model were carried out to gain insight into the mechanism controlling the directional and frequency distributions of hurricane wave energy. It is found that hurricane wave spectra are almost swell-dominated except for the right-rear quadrant of a hurricane with respect to the forward direction, where the local strong winds control the spectra. Despite the complexity of a hurricane wind field, most of the spectra are mono-modal, similar to those under fetch-limited, unidirectional winds. However, bi-modal spectra were also found in both measurements and model results. Four types of bi-modal spectra have been observed. Type I happens far away (>6 × Rmax) from a hurricane. Type II is bi-modal in frequency with significant differences in direction. It happens in the two left quadrants when the direction of hurricane winds deviates considerably from the swell direction. Type III is bi-modal in frequency in almost the same wave direction with two close peaks. It occurs when the energy of locally-generated wind-sea is only partially transferred to the swell energy by non-linear wave-wave interactions. Type IV was observed in shallow waters owing to coastal effects.