Hurricane Wilma made landfall in the U.S. as a category 3 storm at approximately 6:30 AM EDT on October 24, 2005 at Cape Romano, FL, approximately 20 miles south of Naples, FL. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), NASA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are cooperating in a research project investigating coastal change resulting from Hurricane Wilma.
Science and the Storms: the USGS Response to the Hurricanes of 2005
This report is designed to give a view of the immediate response of the USGS to four major hurricanes of 2005: Dennis, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. Topics vary from flooding and water quality to landscape and ecosystem impacts, from geotechnical reconnaissance to analyzing the collapse of bridges and estimating the volume of debris.
Read the report: USGS Circular 1306
Pre-landfall vulnerability estimates are available for west Florida's barrier islands falling within the October 21 cone of uncertainty for Wilma's predicted path. These predictions extend south from Anclote Key to Ft. Myers Beach, but do not include the Marco Island-Cape Romano area where Wilma made landfall. Nonetheless, these maps highlight the extreme vulnerability of the west-Florida coastline to a direct hit from the waves and surge accompanying a storm of Wilma's magnitude. The beaches north of Cape Romano were very lucky to have Wilma's powerful right-front quadrant pass to their south, sparing them from a major wave and surge event.
Aerial video and still photography of post-storm conditions along the sandy beaches of southwest Florida were collected on October 25, 2005 for comparison with earlier data. The comparisons show very little damage to the sandy beaches of Collier County, FL. Because the sandy beaches were located to the north of the right-front quadrant's eyewall, Collier County beaches, for the most part, experienced offshore winds as the storm came onshore, decreasing the surge and wave impacts. The data we have collected will be made available, on request, to local, state, and federal agencies for purposes of disaster recovery and erosion mitigation.