Huang, W.; Hagen, S., and Bacopoulos, P., 2014. Hydrodynamic modeling of Hurricane Dennis impact on estuarine salinity variation in Apalachicola Bay.
Hurricane Dennis made landfall in Florida on 10 July 2005 and caused a storm surge of 2.4 m in Apalachicola. Field observations of salinity, winds, and river inflows are available at a few stations in the bay during the hurricane event. Presented in this paper is a numerical modeling study that investigates the effects of Hurricane Dennis on estuarine mixing and transport. A previously calibrated three-dimensional (3D) estuarine hydrodynamic model was further validated by the field observations of salinity and water levels during the hurricane event. A large-scale storm-surge model was used to provide storm-surge hydrographs at the five estuarine boundaries for the 3D estuarine model. This model integration proved successful with the results indicating that the model predictions of storm-surge hydrographs and salinity match well with observations. Model predictions of spatial distributions of salinity and current fields are presented to demonstrate the fresh-saline water mixing at different times of the storm-surge event. Results indicate that the hurricane-induced storm surge caused substantial increase of salinity in the bay. Majority saline water entered the bay from the east during the storm surge event. Salinity at the oyster reef, Cat Point in the eastern bay area, is more sensitive to the increased water levels caused by storm surge than another oyster reef, Dry Bar, in the western bay area.