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Hurricanes Irma and Maria post-event survey in US Virgin Islands

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalCoastal Engineering Journal
Early online date3 Jan 2019
DOIs
DateAccepted/In press - 11 Dec 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 3 Jan 2019

Abstract

Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused catastrophic damages across the Caribbean Islands during the 2017 hurricane season. After the storms, a joint United States–Japanese team investigated coastal impacts in the US Virgin Islands, which are composed of the islands of St. Thomas, St. John, Water Island, and St. Croix. Coastal inundation was dominated by wave run-up in almost all locations, with many locations showing inundation exceeding 4-m elevation from mean sea level. In contrast, maximum elevations recorded at tide gauges did not exceed 1 m at any location. Coastal damage was relatively minor for such strong hurricanes because of the lack of heavy development at low elevations on the most exposed coastlines. Many moored vessels were destroyed, and coastal structures and infrastructure within the inundation region suffered significant damage. However, few large structures experienced catastrophic losses from coastal inundation. In contrast, strong winds caused extensive structural damage throughout the US Territory. Evidence was seen for past inundation of the coastline, but could not be conclusively linked to any particular events.

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