Hurricane Matthew: Predictions, Observations, and an Analysis of Coastal Change

Open-File Report 2019-1095
By: , and 



Hurricane Matthew, the strongest Atlantic hurricane of the 2016 hurricane season, made land-fall south of McClellanville, S.C., around 1500 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) on October 8, 2016. Hurricane Matthew affected the States of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina along the U.S. Atlantic coastline. Numerous barrier islands were breached, and the erosion of beaches and dunes occurred along most of the South Atlantic coast. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) fore-casted potential coastal-change effects—including dune erosion and overwash that can threaten coastal resources and infrastructure—to assist with pre-storm management decisions. Following the storm, oblique aerial photography was collected, and lidar topographic survey missions were flown. These two datasets were used to document the changes that resulted from the storm and to validate coastal change forecasts. Comparisons of pre- and post-storm photographs were used to characterize the nature, extent, and spatial variability of hurricane-induced coastal changes. Analyses of pre- and post-storm lidar eleva-tions were used to quantify magnitudes of change in shoreline positions, dune elevations, and beach volumes. Erosion was observed along the coast from Florida to North Carolina; however, the coastal response exhibited extensive spatial variability, as would be expected over such a large region.

Suggested Citation

Birchler, J.J., Doran, K.S., Long, J.W., and Stockdon, H.F., 2019, Hurricane Matthew—Predictions, observations, and an analysis of coastal change: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1095, 37 p.,

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Abstract
  • 2. Introduction
  • 3. Storm Overview
  • 4. U.S. Geological Survey Coastal Change Predictions
  • 5. U.S. Geological Survey Coastal-Change Observations
  • 6. Forecast Validation
  • 7. Coastal-Change Analysis
  • 8. Conclusion
  • 9. References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Hurricane Matthew: Predictions, observations, and an analysis of coastal change
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2019-1095
DOI 10.3133/ofr20191095
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description x, 37 p.
Country United States
State Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details