Waves and storm surge associated with strong tropical storms are part of the natural process of barrier-island evolution and can cause extensive morphologic changes in coastal parks, leading to reduced visitor accessibility and enjoyment. Even at Fire Island National Seashore, a barrier-island coastal park in New York where extratropical storms (northeasters) dominate storm activity, the beaches are vulnerable to the powerful, sand-moving forces of hurricanes. The vulnerability of park beaches to inundation, and associated extreme coastal change, during a direct hurricane landfall can be assessed by comparing the elevations of storm-induced mean-water levels (storm surge) to the elevations of the crest of the sand dune that defines the beach system. Maps detailing the inundation potential for Category 1-4 hurricanes can be used by park managers to determine the relative vulnerability of various barrier-island parks and to assess which areas of a particular park are more susceptible to inundation and extreme coastal changes.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Vulnerability of National Park Service beaches to inundation during a direct hurricane landfall: Fire Island National Seashore
U.S. Geological Survey
Florida Integrated Science Center - St. Petersburg