The Impact that Hurricane Ivan (September 16, 2004) Made across Dauphin Island, Alabama

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Abstract

Froede, C.R., JR., 2006, The impact that Hurricane Ivan (September 16, 2004) made across Dauphin Island, Alabama. Journal of Coastal Research, 22(3), 561-573. West Palm Beach (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.

The western eye-wall of Hurricane Ivan (an upper Category 3 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale) passed approximately 21 km east of Dauphin Island as it made an early morning landfall on September 16, 2004. The island experienced Category 1 hurricane (Saffir-Simpson scale) force winds and large storm waves. Ivan affected Dauphin Island in a variety of ways because of the island's morphology and proximity to nearby submerged and emergent features. The eastern end of the barrier island experienced diminished storm wave energy as a result of an emergent offshore sand island (Pelican-Sand Island), which is a portion of the shallow submerged Mobile Bay ebb-tidal delta. These offshore features absorbed most of the energy from Ivan's storm waves. The western end of the island, a thin and low-lying portion of the barrier island platform, received the full impact of the hurricane. Beach-derived sand was transported northward across this portion of the island by the action of storm waves that washed over it. As a result, a large number of gulf-facing dwellings are left stranded within the swash zone, and several are completely surrounded by water. Further west, the island was breached in several places by storm waves that created large channels. These incised features will likely close within a year under more typical fair-weather conditions. However, the resulting depressions behind the newly formed swash-zone berm will take many years to naturally infill. Beach nourishment will probably be necessary to return a large portion of the developed island to its prehurricane geomorphological setting. Hurricane Ivan revealed the fragile nature and precarious setting that Dauphin Island occupies in the Gulf of Mexico.

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