Record storm surges hit Mid-Atlantic coast

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:22 PM GMT on November 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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621. beell
The "fun" starts at about the 2 minute mark.

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And Grothar meant no harm by his post...just posted something historical. BTW, thank you for all your posts from down under. Very informative.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Actually hail is made up of ice, not stones.

From beell's post:

In particular, a supercell thunderstorm moved northeastward across the community of Aurora, Nebraska, producing extremely large hail and multiple short-lived tornadoes. A record setting hailstone was ultimately discovered in Aurora, measuring 7.0 inches (17.78 cm) in diameter with an 18.75 inch (47.63 cm) circumference. This hailstone broke the previous hail size (diameter and circumference) record of the Coffeyville, Kansas hailstone of 3 September 1970.


Um yeah i do know that, I ment it as hail STONES not stones as in rocks.
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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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Actually hail is made up of ice, not stones.

From beell's post:

In particular, a supercell thunderstorm moved northeastward across the community of Aurora, Nebraska, producing extremely large hail and multiple short-lived tornadoes. A record setting hailstone was ultimately discovered in Aurora, measuring 7.0 inches (17.78 cm) in diameter with an 18.75 inch (47.63 cm) circumference. This hailstone broke the previous hail size (diameter and circumference) record of the Coffeyville, Kansas hailstone of 3 September 1970.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Quoting Grothar:


Just trying to lighten the mood.


OMG are you serious, geez, if that hit someone on the head it would kill. That's just a big clump of stones. That should be called "killer hail"
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614. beell
Ida was a part of the nor'easter-no dispute on that part. At the mid levels. And as another blogger noted (amd?) it was a deep digging polar jet shortwave that made a true merger with this mid level energy. Leading to a stronger, stacked deep layer cyclone. Which produced a stronger surface low pushed up against strong surface ridging to the north.



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Just trying to lighten the mood.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
August 1, 2003 � A raging thunderstorm that pounded south-central Nebraska last month ended up leaving a little something extra for residents—and the meteorological record books. The largest hailstone ever recovered in the United States fell in Aurora on June 22, with a record 7-inch diameter and a circumference of 18.75 inches. (Click NOAA image for larger view of record-setting hailstone. Please credit “NOAA.)
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting TampaSpin:
This CMC Loop sure is interesting...TOLD ya Geoff...you might owe me a Ham.


haha. A day is not complete without a CMC doomcast. Ex-Ida turns into a Cat 5 hurricane into Miami metro, then intensifying to cat 6 and hitting New Orleans. That model is a joke.
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Quoting P451:


What do you think about the 10-day ago discussed scenario actually playing out - including the extratropical system eventually bombing as a nor'easter?

Just wondering, for, you were in the camp, and possibly one of the most adamant of the group, that the systems would never merge, and there would be no subsequent strong extratropical system.

Now, those of us discussing the merger, felt it had a about a 30% chance of happening - and after that - felt the extratropical system had about a 30% chance of coming together as it did after the fact.

So the confidence wasn't high, but, the possibility was always there.

Thoughts?



Wow, season must be over, responding to a comment from like 3 days ago.

My response - congratuf***inglations you were right. However, I doubt Ida even had much to do with this noreaster. Ida lost all its energy over the gulf and landfalled as a naked swirl. So I don't know why everyone's calling this "Ida Noreaster"?
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Quoting TampaSpin:


I said last night to watch the Caribbean in 5-7 days because of that big high...By next Saturday we will have something to be watching again.


How could I have forgotten it was you? I was probably concentrating on all those old Christmas movies, you know the ones with all the heavy snow! Do you still think it is an area to watch? If that high stays in place it could keep them down.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
608. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
see you all in about 4-6 hours =P
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Every year Madagascar is hit by hurricanes. These hurricanes normally come from the equatorial region of the Indian Ocean. Some of them have a reasonable strength but others are real devastating. Excerpt from Wiki!!!!

I never knew this! I thought the waters off Madagascar would weaken them. They are not always that warm.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
606. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Warning Nr / Avis Nr 05/04 15/11/2009 0100 UTC --
System / Système SEVERE TROPICAL STORM / FORTE TEMPETE TROPICALE --
Name / Nom ANJA --
Position / Position NEAR 12° 9 S - 70° 5 E 15/11/2009 0000 UTC --
Estimated minimum central Pressure / Pression minimale estimée au centre 978 HPA --
Maxi average wind (10 mn) near the centre / Vent moyen maxi (10 mn) près du centre 55 KT (100 KM/H) --
Gust maxi / Rafales maxi 75 KT (140 KM/H) --
CI Number (Dvorak scale) / Nombre CI (Classification de Dvorak) CI 4.0 --
Movement over the past 06 hours / Déplacement au cours des dernières 06 heures ALMOST STATIONNARY / QUASI-STATIONNAIRE --
Other informations / Autres informations

--
oh it's released 55kts 978 hPa
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Quoting TampaSpin:


I said last night to watch the Caribbean in 5-7 days because of that big high...By next Saturday we will have something to be watching again.
Just came back on the blog and that is something I could have done without seeing .
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604. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Madagascar website still has the 18:00 PM UTC statement

Link
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Is Nana lurking tonight?
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BBL
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Quoting Grothar:
Who had said to look out for development in the Caribbean this week? Someone on the blog, but can't remember who. I have some discount tickets at Honey Baked Ham if you need one for TSpin, Geoff.


I said last night to watch the Caribbean in 5-7 days because of that big high...By next Saturday we will have something to be watching again.
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600. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Madagascar and Mauritius has different times they release advisories
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Never mind. It's at 06:30 AM UTC.
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Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
can't wait to see Madagascar says in their advisory


Not often you hear that phrase in this blog :), but you do a great job Hades in keeping us posted on storms in other areas!
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BBL
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Who had said to look out for development in the Caribbean this week? Someone on the blog, but can't remember who. I have some discount tickets at Honey Baked Ham if you need one for TSpin, Geoff.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Quoting HadesGodWyvern:
can't wait to see Madagascar says in their advisory

When is the next advisory?
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593. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
can't wait to see Madagascar says in their advisory
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Saw that earlier Tim and was hoping you forgot!
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That is one big high for November in that position.
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590. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
ya Anja is bombing a little
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Quoting Ameister12:
Anja has a great looking eye!


Navy has the pressure down to 956mb.



Looks like a backwards image. Only kidding!! Try and explain this one to the Flatearthers.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
This CMC Loop sure is interesting...TOLD ya Geoff...you might owe me a Ham.
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You were reading my mind Grothar. Was going to add a weather reference to the post. Yes...a lot of snow in the movie! And yes, the Carol Kane part is one of the funniest in the movie. A lot of Three Stooges pranks in that scene.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Anja has a great looking eye!


Navy has the pressure down to 956mb.

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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Watching Bill Murray's "Scrooged" on DVR. Another good holiday movie.


Got a kick out of Carol Kane punching the heck out of him. There was a lot of snow in that movie, too, Right Geoff???
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Watching Bill Murray's "Scrooged" on DVR. Another good holiday movie.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Congrats on the victory. How about tomorrow? Fins Vs. Bucs!


I'm still trying to forget the Giant's loss to San Diego by 1 point. 1 POINT!! It is good this is a BYE week for them. Couldn't take another loss this close. OH, I forgot. I hope the weather is good on their game with Denver.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
582. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
Mauritius Meteorological Services
Tropical Cyclone Advisory Number FOUR
TEMPETE TROPICALE MODEREE ANJA (04-20092010)
4:00 AM Réunion November 15 2009
=========================================

At 0:00 AM, Moderate Tropical Storm Anja (985 hPa) located at 12.9S 70.6E has 10 minute sustained winds of 45 knots with gusts of 65 knots. The cyclone is reported as quasi-stationary

RSMC Dvorak Intensity: T3.5

Gale-force winds
==================
20 NM from the center

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

Forecast and Intensity
======================
12 HRS: 13.3S 70.3E - 60 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)
24 HRS: 13.6S 69.4E - 70 kts (Cyclone Tropical)
48 HRS: 15.5S 66.7E - 80 kts (Cyclone Tropical)
72 HRS: 18.3S 65.2E - 60 kts (Forte Tempête Tropicale)

Additional Information
========================

The system is deepening rapidly and is quasi-stationary. The last animated satellite imagery shows an eye not yet well defined.

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 a upper level ridge, with two efficient upper level outflow equatorwards and polewards. Environmental conditions are expected to remain very favorable within the next 48 hours.. then monsoon and trade flows are expected to weaken, and sea surface temperatures become cooler, limitiing intensification.

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

The next Tropical Cyclone Advisory will be issued at around 06:30 AM UTC
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Quoting TampaSpin:


OUCH i would rather talk about a cane hitting the WEST Palm Beach area......LOL


Lol...don't you know? We borrowed the shower-curtain deflector from Miami-Dade!
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
It was nice last night. I tried at the beginning to stay on weather topics...but almost no one responded. Then we went off on our own little tirade and had a good time. Thanks to Admin. for being tolerant.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Quoting Grothar:


Great day, thanks. Weather was perfect. I see we are all still here yet! Lot of laughs last night. P451 has put some good images on ex-Ida.


Ya P451 did an incredible job putting that together....nice piece of work.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Congrats on the victory. How about tomorrow? Fins Vs. Bucs!


OUCH i would rather talk about a cane hitting the WEST Palm Beach area......LOL
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You can tell the hurricane season is pretty much over when the radio stations start playing 24-hour a day Christmas music.
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
Hi Grothar....hope you had a great day! Weather great today. Just right.


Great day, thanks. Weather was perfect. I see we are all still here yet! Lot of laughs last night. P451 has put some good images on ex-Ida.
Member Since: July 17, 2009 Posts: 71 Comments: 27210
Congrats on the victory. How about tomorrow? Fins Vs. Bucs!
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11557
Geoff howabout them Knights today.....daughter is partying like .....its homecoming weekend also..
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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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