Hurricane Andrew produced changes to the Louisiana wetlands not normally observed after lesser, more common storms. For example, the <25 m/s wind speeds generated by cold fronts and winter storms, and any accompanying storm surge, do not cause substantial, wide-spread alteration of marsh vegetation. During Hurricane Andrew, however, the wind, the wind-driven storm surge, or both produced severe, wide-spread wetland alteration, especially in areas that primarily consisted of densely vegetated floating mats. In a few hours, vegetated brackish marsh was severely torn and large areas were converted to open water, a process that takes decades when driven by geologic subsidence, human intervention, and lesser storms. During the passage of Hurricane Andrew, wind measurements were taken inside an impoundment within a brackish part of Louisiana's coastal wetlands system. At its closest point, the site lay 50 km to the right of the north-trending storm track, placing it in or near the zone of maximum wind (the eye wall). As the hurricane approached, the wind blew from the north; after it passed, the wind direction swung around to the southeast. Several hours after the eye passed, the southeasterly wind drove a 1.5-m storm surge through the area, causing the collapse of the meteorology tower. Wind shear stress calculations, based on data from two vertically stacked sensors, showed a direct correlation between wind shear stress and wind speed. The greatest increase in wind shear stress occurred when wind speed exceeded 20 m/s. Overall, wind shear stress increased more than three orders of magnitude — from approximately 0.01 N/m² at a wind speed of 6 m/s through 1 N/m² at 20 m/s to 18 N/m² at the maximum sustained speed of 43 m/s. Drag-coefficient calculations show that the open-ocean CD formulations, such as the popular WAMDI model, cannot be employed for wetland use because it overestimates CD for velocities less than approximately 20 m/s and underestimates it for higher velocities.
|Title||Wind shear stress measurements in a coastal marsh during Hurricane Andrew|
|Authors||J. R. Dingler, S.A. Hsu, A. Lee Foote|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Journal of Coastal Research|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||National Wetlands Research Center|