Coastal flooding in Scituate (MA) : A FVCOM study of the 27 December 2010 nor'easter
Beardsley, Robert C.
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A nested Finite-Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) inundation forecast model has been developed for Scituate (MA) as part of the Northeast Coastal Ocean Forecast System (NECOFS). Scituate Harbor is a small coastal lagoon oriented north-south with a narrow entrance (with opposing breakwaters) opening eastward onto Massachusetts Bay and the Gulf of Maine. On 27 December 2010, a classic nor'easter produced a ∼0.9 m high surge, which when added to the ∼1.5 m high tide and seasonal higher mean water level, produced significant inundation in Scituate. The Scituate FVCOM inundation model includes flooding/drying, seawall/breakwater, and wave-current interaction capabilities, and was driven by one-way nesting with NECOFS. Hindcasts of the 27 December nor'easter event were made with two different resolution Scituate FVCOM grids with and without inclusion of wave-current interaction to examine the influence of spatial resolution and model dynamics on the predicted flooding. In all simulations, a wind-driven coastal current flowed southward across the harbor entrance, with an attached separation eddy forming downstream of the northern breakwater and rapid decrease in wave energy entering the harbor. With wave-current interaction, the southward coastal current was strongly enhanced and currents within the separation eddy increased to more than 1 m/s, making it highly nonlinear with large lateral shears. Comparisons of the model water elevation time series with harbor tide station measurements showed that inclusion of wave-current interaction increased the peak model surge by ∼8 cm, in closer agreement with the observed peak.
Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2013. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans 118 (2013): 6030–6045, doi:10.1002/2013JC008862.