HURRICANE WAVE STATISTICS FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO

Basil W. Wilson

Abstract


This paper contains the results of a statistical hindcast study of the heights and periods of significant waves generated by hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in the period 1900 to 1949. Results are presented in a series of polar plots of frequencies of occurrence of waves of given height and period at deep-water (100 fathoms depth) stations at different bearings offshore from five coastal stations (Brownsville, Tex., Gilchrist, Tex., Burrwood, Miss., Apalachicola, Fla., Tampa, Fla.).

Analysis was conducted by selecting a sample of 9 hurricanes and hindcasting by graphical moving fetch techniques, wave heights, periods and arrival times along eleven approach-directions to the five coastal stations for one storm, and from two to three approach directions for the remaining eight storms. Maximum heights and periods were correlated with hurricane characteristics (pressure, radius of maximum winds, forward velocity and direction). From the correlation the sample was increased by an additional 23 hurricanes whose characteristics were known. Heights and periods plotted against frequencies of occurrence gave mainly normal probability distribution Finally taking account of the total number of tropical storms occurring in the Gulf of Mexico in 50 years and the incidences of waves from various direction at the five stations, the chances of occurrence of full hurricane waves were evaluated.

Keywords


Gulf of Mexico; wave frequency of occurrence; hindcasting

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