Meteorological forcing is the primary driving force and primary source of errors for storm surge forecasting. The objective of this study was to learn how forecasted meteorological forcing influences storm surge generation and propagation during a hurricane so that storm surge models can be reliably used to forecast actual events. Hindcasts and forecasts of Hurricane Rita (2005) storm surge was used as a case study. Meteorological forcing or surface wind/pressure fields for Hurricane Rita were generated using both the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) full-scale forecasting model along with archived hurricane advisories ingested into a sophisticated parametric wind model, namely Generalized Asymmetric Holland Model (GAHM). These wind fields were used to forecast Rita storm surges. Observation based wind fields from the OceanWeather Inc. (OWI) Interactive Objective Kinematic Analysis (IOKA) model, and Best track wind data ingested into the GAHM model were used to generate wind fields for comparison purposes. These wind fields were all used to hindcast Rita storm surges with the ADvanced CIRCulation (ADCIRC) model coupled with the Simulating Waves Nearshore (SWAN) model in a tightly coupled storm surge-wave model referred to as ADCIRC+SWAN. The surge results were compared against a quality-controlled database of observed data to assess the performance of these wind fields on storm surge generation and propagation. The surge hindcast produced by the OWI wind field performed the best, although some high water mark (HWM) locations were overpredicted. Although somewhat underpredicted, the WRF wind fields forecasted wider surge extent and wetted most HWM locations. The hindcast using the Best track parameters in the GAHM and the forecast using forecast/advisories from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in the GAHM produced strong and narrow wind fields causing localized high surges, which resulted in overprediction near landfall while many HWM locations away from wind bands remained dry.
Musinguzi, A.; Akbar, M.K.; Fleming, J.G.; Hargrove, S.K. Understanding Hurricane Storm Surge Generation and Propagation Using a Forecasting Model, Forecast Advisories and Best Track in a Wind Model, and Observed Data—Case Study Hurricane Rita. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2019, 7, 77. https://doi.org/10.3390/jmse7030077