Computer model of wind, waves, and longshore currents during a coastal storm

  • William T. Fox
  • Richard A. DavisJr.


A mathematical model has been developed to forecast or hindcast wind, waves, and longshore currents during the passage of a coastal storm. Storm intensity is a function of the barometric pressure gradient which is modeled by rotating an inverted normal curve around the center of an ellipse. The length and orientation of the major and minor axes of the ellipse control the size and shape of the storm. The path of the storm is determined by a sequence of storm positions for the hindcast mode, and by interpolated positions assuming constant speed and direction for the forecast mode. The site location, shoreline orientation, and nearshore bottom slope provide input data for the shore position. The geostrophic wind speed and direction at the shore site are computed from the latitude and barometric pressure gradient. The geostrophic wind is converted into surface wind speed and direction by applying corrections for frictional effects over land and sea. The surface wind speed and direction, effective fetch, and wind duration are used to compute wave period, breaker height, and breaker angle at the shore site. The longshore current velocity is computed as a function of wave period, breaker height and angle, and nearshore slope. The model was tested by comparing observed data for several coastal locations with predicted values for wind speed, wave period and height, and longshore current velocity. Forecasts were made for actual storms and for hypothetical circular and elliptical storms.

Key words

coastal storm simulation long shore current storm forecasting 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • William T. Fox
    • 1
  • Richard A. DavisJr.
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of GeologyWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA

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