Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Chesapeake Bay Shore Erosion

contact: Bob Conkwright (bconkwright@dnr.state.md.us)   

 Hurricane Isabel and Shore Erosion in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland page 2 of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ,6, 7, 8    
   The Storm

    Hurricanes are distinguished by their most damaging forces, operating singly or in combination. In Maryland, Isabel will be remembered, not for its intensity or heavy rains, but for the height of its storm surge. A bulge of water generated by the hurricane's swirling winds and low pressure within the eye, the storm surge made its way from the Atlantic Ocean into the Chesapeake Bay.  In the Northern Hemisphere, winds associated with tropical cyclones, including tropical storms and hurricanes, rotate counterclockwise. The most damaging winds are those found in the right front quadrant of the storm, as defined by the direction of the storm's forward movement. As Isabel, with its enormous wind field, tracked north-northwest, to the west of the Chesapeake Bay, right front quadrant winds blew from the south-southeast, pushing the storm surge up the Bay and piling it onto the Western Shore.  For 88 coastal high water marks surveyed in Western Shore counties following Isabel, surge elevations ranged from 3.0 to7.9 ft, averaging 6.5 ft [3].

The storm tide exceeded 8 ft in Baltimore Harbor
The storm tide exceeded 8 ft in Baltimore Harbor [6].

Isabel at landfall. The radius of tropical storm force winds extended 345 miles from the eye
Isabel at landfall. The radius of tropical storm force winds extended 345 miles from the eye[4]
Storm Surge Model of Isabel Flooding Storm Surge in Southern Maryland
Maximum water levels reached throughout the Bay over the course of the storm surge. Output fromthe Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) computer model, run with actual storm data
Maximum water levels reached throughout the Bay over the course of the storm surge. Output from the Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) computer model, run with actual storm data [5].
Storm surge flooding. St. George Island, Potomac R., St. Mary'sCo.
Storm surge flooding. St. George Island, Potomac R., St. Mary's Co. [7]
3.  URS Group, Inc., 2003, Hurricane Isabel rapid response coastal high water mark (CHWM) collection, Gaithersburg, MD, 197 p
4.  J. Descloitres, 2003, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC, (1/23/04)
5.  W. Shaffer, 2003, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
6.  NOAA, Tides Online (http://tidesonline.nos.noaa.gov/)
7. St. Mary's County, 2003 Hurricane Isabel's Aftermath. http://www.co.saint-marys.md.us/GIS/isabel.asp

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