Influence of Two Tropical Storms on the Residual Flow in a Subtropical Tidal Inlet

Waterhouse A. F. , Tutak B. , VALLE-LEVINSON A., SHENG Y. P.

ESTUARIES AND COASTS, vol.36, no.5, pp.1037-1053, 2013 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 36 Issue: 5
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s12237-013-9606-3
  • Title of Journal : ESTUARIES AND COASTS
  • Page Numbers: pp.1037-1053


The mechanisms responsible for the modulation of laterally sheared non-tidal (residual) exchange flow in a subtropical inlet, with special emphasis on tropical storm influence, are studied using a combination of current velocity profiles and hydrographic and meteorological data. The mouth of the inlet, St. Augustine Inlet in northeast Florida, is characterized by a 15-m-deep channel flanked by shoals (< 6 m deep). Residual flows across the inlet mouth were laterally sheared with inflow in the channel and outflow over the shoals. This pattern persisted during four separate semi-diurnal tidal cycle surveys effected over 3 years. During spring tides, residual exchange flows intensified relative to neap tides. Residual inflow in the channel only reversed immediately after tropical storms because of their extreme winds and major temporal changes in water level. After the residual flow reversed in the channel, along-channel baroclinicity drove gravitational circulation that persisted for 4.5 days and was enhanced by offshore winds. A depth-averaged along-basin momentum budget highlighted the importance of bottom friction to help balance the barotropic pressure gradient. The rest of the momentum budget was likely provided by advective terms. During and after tropical storms, accelerations from wind stress and baroclinic pressure gradients also became influential in the along-basin momentum budget.