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St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
Observations of Impacts Caused by Hurricane Bonnie, August 1998, on the North Carolina Coast

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Hurricane Bonnie struck the North Carolina coast on August 26, 1998. A category 3 storm packing winds of 115 mph (185 kph), Bonnie came ashore near Cape Fear, NC, close to the tracks of Hurricanes Bertha and Fran in the summer of 1996. One week after the storm, NASA, USGS, and NOAA surveyed the area of impact using the Airborne Topographic Mapper (ATM), a scanning airborne laser altimeter. These data were compared to ATM data collected one year prior to Bonnie's landfall. Beach erosion and accretion create distinctive patterns in plots showing elevation changes between the two data sets. On relatively low areas of Topsail Island, NC, dunes were breached resulting in both sheet and channelized overwash. Overwash deposits 0.5-1.0 meters thick extended as much as 150 meters landward of the shoreline, in some areas extending under oceanfront houses and covering roads. On higher parts of Topsail Island, few significant impacts were observed. Although prior to landfall, Hurricane Bonnie was approximately the same strength as Hurricane Fran, Bonnie caused far fewer impacts to the barrier island environment. Using the ATM to acquire pre- and post-storm topography over hundreds of kilometers of coast greatly improves quantification of storm impacts.

Coastal and Marine Program > St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center > Research by Theme > Hazards > Hurricane and Extreme Storm Impact Studies > Hurricane Bonnie > Coastal Change From Lidar

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
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Updated December 05, 2016 @ 11:24 AM (THF) North Section Middle Section South Section