October 25, 2016

Using Ocean Technology to Capture Hurricane Matthew in Real Time

As Matthew moved from the Bahamas to the Carolinas, ocean observing technology – such as buoys – captured waves over 20 feet and wind speed of over 50 knots along its’ path.

Overview

Hurricane Matthew was the first category 5 Atlantic hurricane since 2007.  After wreaking havoc in the Caribbean, Matthew started its path along the southern Atlantic seaboard of the US as a category 3 hurricane, eventually making landfall as a category 1 hurricane north of Charleston, SC on Oct. 8. Maximum sustained winds were near 120 mph during the US portion of its track.  The Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing System (SECOORA) responded to the storm in real time.

SECOORA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, coordinates coastal and ocean monitoring activities in the southeast United States in partnership with NOAA, U.S. IOOS and a number of other public and private interests. SECOORA supports marine weather buoys and high frequency radar coastal stations located in the impact zone of Matthew. One buoy operated by University of North Carolina Wilmington reported wind speed of over 42 knots or 48 mph.

Data

Buoys, coastal stations, forecast models and other ocean technology transmit data – such as wind speed and wave height – in near real time to data servers and portals.

Near real time data is used by weather forecasters and Emergency Response Managers to confirm what the models are predicting and report the true conditions. It helps them accurately decide the best way to respond to dangerous situations. 

The SECOORA Data Portal allows visualization of data from multiple sources in near real-time. Our Hurricane Matthew resources page featured 20+ data resources from federal and non-federal partners.

Figure 1: Pictured is the track of Hurricane Matthew and wave buoys on the southeast coast. Buoys reported significant wave heights over 25 feet. 

Figure 2: Pictured is the track of Hurricane Matthew and ocean buoys on the southeast coast. Many of the buoys have sensors that collect metrological data. The buoy in Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary operated by NOAA transmitted wind speed of 54 knots or 62 mph before the anemometer stopped reporting. 

Damages to Ocean Observing Assets 

Although most ocean observing assets fared well in the storm, some were damaged or went adrift. For example, buoy 41114 operated by the Coastal Data Information Program broke loose during the storm.  These observing assets are critical to all sorts of mariners and other stakeholders that live and work on and near the coast.  SECOORA is working to document damages to this important infrastructure that informs us whether our ocean ‘highways’ are safe to work and play on.

Mark Rosen from Port St Lucie Anglers Club reached out to US IOOS when he noticed the buoy was not reporting. He stated, “As fishermen we [Port St Lucie Anglers Club] rely heavily on the information from buoy 41114. We really appreciate the work involved in keeping that buoy on station.”

Below are descriptions of the ocean observing instruments that were in the incident zone of Matthew, with those that were damaged highlighted in red.  Please contact us if you know of assets that were damaged that are not listed. Click here to download the full excel file that includes information on federal and non federal assets.

SECOORA Region In-situ Assets (Funded Partners) in the incident zone – Post Matthew Impact Assessment  (10/13/2016)

Name

Responsible Party

Display Title

Platform Type

Latitude

Longitude

Status during and after Hurricane Matthew

Notes

Onslow Bay 18M

UNC-Wilmington

ILM2

Fixed Surface Buoy

34.13

-77.71

Operational

This is maintained in collaboration with CDIP (150) – Masonboro Inlet

Onslow Bay 30M

UNC-Wilmington

ILM3

Fixed Surface Buoy

33.98

-77.35

Operational

 

Sunset Beach Buoy 2

UNC-Wilmington

SUN2

Fixed Surface Buoy

33.848

-78.489

Operational

 

Capers Island Buoy 2

UNC-Wilmington

CAP2

Fixed Surface Buoy

32.8

-79.62

Operational

 

Fripp Island Buoy 2

UNC-Wilmington

FRP2

Fixed Surface Buoy

32.28

-80.41

Not transmitting

Suspected damage from Hurricane Matthew (Yet to make site visit)

Lejune Buoy 3

UNC-Wilmington

LEJ3

Fixed Surface Buoy

34.21083333

-76.9525

Operational

 

 

NOAA OA Gray's Reef Mooring

UGA

Gray's Reef

 

Fixed Surface Buoy

31.4

-80.86

Wind sensors down since 8th Oct, they are maintained by NDBC

The Ocean Acidification Sensors maintained by UGA were not affected

 

SECOORA Region High Frequency Radar Assets in the incident zone – Post Matthew Impact Assessment  (10/13/2016)

Name

Responsible Party

Display Title

Latitude

Longitude

Status during and after Hurricane Matthew

Notes

University of North Carolina

CODAR

Duck

36.18

-75.75

Operational

 

University of North Carolina

CODAR

Cape Hatteras

35.26

-75.52

Operational

 

University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

CODAR

Core Banks

34.76

-76.41

Operational

 

University of South Carolina

WERA

Georgetown

33.25

-79.15

Operational

Damages suspected (Yet to make site visit assessment)

University of South Carolina

WERA

Caswell Beach

33.88

-78.11

Operational

Site visit was made. Cables were damaged due to wave action. Site is operational, but cable repairs need to be done. (10/13/2016)

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

WERA

St. Catherine

31.69

-81.13

Down

Possible damages suspected due to Matthew (Yet to make site visit assessment)

Skidaway Institute of Oceanography

WERA

Jekyll Island

31.06

-81.41

Operational

Possible damages to antennas suspected (Yet to make site visit assessment)

University of Miami

WERA

Dania Beach

26.08

-80.12

Operational

 

University of Miami

WERA

Virginia Key

25.74

-80.15

Operational

 

University of Miami

WERA

Crandon Park

25.71

-80.15

Operational

 

Florida Atlantic University

CODAR

Haulover Beach, FL

25.91

-80.1

Operational (non- real-time)

Not funded by SECOORA

Florida Atlantic University

CODAR

Hillsboroug River, FL

26.26

-80.08

Operational (non real-time)

Not funded by SECOORA