A case study of nearshore drag coefficient behavior during hurricane ike (2008)

Brian C. Zachry, John L. Schroeder, Andrew B. Kennedy, Joannes J. Westerink, Chris W. Letchford, Mark E. Hope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Over the past decade, numerous field campaigns and laboratory experiments have examined air-sea momentum exchange in the deep ocean. These studies have changed the understanding of drag coefficient behavior in hurricane force winds, with a general consensus that a limiting value is reached. Near the shore, wave conditions are markedly different than in deep water because of wave shoaling and breaking processes, but only very limited data exist to assess drag coefficient behavior. Yet, knowledge of the wind stress in this region is critical for storm surge forecasting, evaluating the low-level wind field across the coastal transition zone, and informing the wind load standard along the hurricane-prone coastline. During Hurricane Ike (2008), a Texas Tech University StickNet platform obtained wind measurements in marine exposure with a fetch across the Houston ship channel. These data were used to estimate drag coefficient dependence on wind speed. Wave conditions in the ship channel and surge level at the StickNet location were simulated using the Simulating Waves Nearshore Model coupled to the Advanced Circulation Model. The simulated waves were indicative of a fetch-limited condition with maximum significant wave heights reaching 1.5m and peak periods of 4 s. A maximum surge depth of 0.6m inundated the StickNet. Similar to deep water studies, findings indicate that the drag coefficient reaches a limiting value at wind speeds near hurricane force. However, at wind speeds below hurricane force, the drag coefficient is higher than that of deep water datasets, particularly at the slowest wind speeds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2139-2146
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2013


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