Book released on Hurricane Isabel's effect on Chesapeake Bay

December 02, 2005

A new book entitled Hurricane Isabel in Perspective has just been released. While Isabel was not a hurricane when she arrived in the Chesapeake Bay watershed in September 2003, it caused devastating damage to its tidal areas and tributaries. Parts of Annapolis, Baltimore's Fells Point and Alexandria, Va were underwater, destroying boats, docks, cars, and homes.

The book is based on proceedings of a November 2004conference, sponsored by the Chesapeake Research Consortium and University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, that brought together scientists from the region. Kevin Sellner, Executive Director of CRC and editor of the book, said "The conference was an important impetus for scientists to immediately review their data and summarize how such a large storm can have significant effects on a coastal system like Chesapeake Bay. The book puts those lessons in perpetuity, complementing the earlier CRC book on Hurricane Agnes, and allows a broader audience to understand the effects of such large storms and prepare for future ones."

Because Isabel tracked along the western side of the Chesapeake Bay, its counterclockwise winds drove water up the Bay and its tributaries causing a damaging storm surge. Even with the media providing advanced warning and predictions of the storm-surge height, the public did not fully understand and hence prepare for the flood waters that accompanied the storm. The book covers diverse topics such as the history of large storms on the Bay, storm modeling forecasts, Isabel's effect on water quality and living resources, as well as preparing, and responding to future storms. "It's important for the scientific and management communities to immediately assess and understand these large storms so that they can predict the effects of future storms and communicate effectively to the public. The findings outlined in this book should be used by scientists and hazard experts for decades," said Bill Dennison, conference organizer and Vice President for Science Applications at UMCES.

Not all the effects of Hurricane Isabel were bad on the Chesapeake Bay. For example, recruitment of juvenile Atlantic croaker into the Chesapeake were eight times greater than the 50 year average. Atlantic croaker recruitment seem to increase after hurricanes as was the case after Hurricanes Gloria, Juan, and Hugo probably due to transport of juveniles up the Bay from spawning sites located in the coastal ocean.
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The book costs $50 plus $2.50 for shipping and can be ordered through the Chesapeake Research Consortium website http://www.chesapeake.org/

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

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