NATURAL DISASTER STUDIES

Volume Two

HURRICANE ELENA, GULF COAST

AUGUST 29-SEPTEMBER 2, 1985

Prepared by:

Peter Sparks (Team Leader),

Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, South Carolina

Earl J. Baker,

Department of Geography, Florida State University, Tallahassee

James Belville,

Forecast Office, National Weather Service, Sterling, Virginia

Dale C. Perry,

Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station

For:

Committee on Natural Disasters

Division of Natural Hazard Mitigation

Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C. 1991



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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 NATURAL DISASTER STUDIES Volume Two HURRICANE ELENA, GULF COAST AUGUST 29-SEPTEMBER 2, 1985 Prepared by: Peter Sparks (Team Leader), Department of Civil Engineering, Clemson University, South Carolina Earl J. Baker, Department of Geography, Florida State University, Tallahassee James Belville, Forecast Office, National Weather Service, Sterling, Virginia Dale C. Perry, Department of Construction Science, Texas A&M University, College Station For: Committee on Natural Disasters Division of Natural Hazard Mitigation Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1991

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 90-63996 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04434-0 A limited number of copies of this monograph are available from: Committee on Natural Disasters National Research Council, HA 286 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 202/334-3312 Additional copies are available for sale from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 202/334-3313 1-800-624-6242 Printed in the United States of America S-286

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 NATURAL DISASTER STUDIES An Investigative Series of the Committee on Natural Disasters The Committee on Natural Disasters and its predecessors, dating back to the committee that studied the 1964 Alaska Earthquake, have conducted on-site studies and prepared reports reflecting their findings and recommendations on the mitigation of natural disaster effects. Objectives of the committee are to: record time-sensitive information immediately following disasters; provide guidance on how engineering and the social sciences can best be applied to the improvement of public safety; recommend research needed to advance the state of the art in the area of natural disaster reduction; and conduct special studies to address long-term issues in natural disasters, particularly issues of a multiple-hazard nature. EDITOR Riley M. Chung National Research Council EDITORIAL BOARD Dennis S. Mileti, Chair Colorado State University Fort Collins Norbert S. Baer New York University New York, New York Earl J. Baker Florida State University Tallahassee Arthur N. L. Chiu University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu Hanna J. Cortner University of Arizona Tucson Peter Gergely Cornell University Ithaca, New York Joseph H. Golden National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Washington, D.C. Wilfred D. Iwan California Institute of Technology Pasadena Ahsan Kareem University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, Indiana Dale C. Perry Texas A&M University College Station William J. Petak University of Southern California Los Angeles Robert L. Schuster U.S. Geological Survey Denver, Colorado SPONSORING AGENCIES Federal Emergency Management Agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Science Foundation

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 INVITATION FOR DISCUSSION Materials presented in Natural Disaster Studies often contain observations and statements that inspire debate. Readers interested in contributing to the discussion surrounding any topic contained in the journal may do so in the form of a letter to the editor. Letters will be reviewed by the editorial board, and if considered appropriate, printed in subsequent issues of Natural Disaster Studies.

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 COMMITTEE ON NATURAL DISASTERS (1985–1990) NORBERT S. BAER, Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, New York EARL J. BAKER, Department of Geography, Florida State University, Tallahassee ARTHUR N. L. CHIU, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu HANNA J. CORTNER, Water Resources Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson ROBERT G. DEAN, Department of Coastal and Oceanographic Engineering, University of Florida, Gainesville JOHN A. DRACUP, Civil Engineering Department, University of California, Los Angeles DANNY L. FREAD, National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Silver Spring, Maryland PETER GERGELY, Department of Structural Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York JOSEPH H. GOLDEN, Chief Scientist Office, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, D.C. WILFRED D. IWAN, Department of Earthquake Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena AHSAN KAREEM, Civil Engineering Department, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana T. WILLIAM LAMBE, Consultant, Longboat Key, Florida KISHOR C. MEHTA, Institute for Disaster Research, Texas Tech University, Lubbock DENNIS S. MILETI, Department of Sociology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins JAMES K. MITCHELL, Department of Geography, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey JOSEPH PENZIEN, Department of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley DALE C. PERRY, Department of Construction Science, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University, College Station WILLIAM J. PETAK, Institute of Safety and Systems Management, University of Southern California, Los Angeles LESLIE E. ROBERTSON, Leslie E. Robertson & Associates, New York, New York ROBERT L. SCHUSTER, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, Colorado METE A. SOZEN, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 RANDALL G. UPDIKE, Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia Staff RILEY M. CHUNG, Director EDWARD LIPP, Editor SUSAN R. McCUTCHEN, Administrative Assistant GREGORY A. MOCK, Editor SHIRLEY J. WHITLEY, Project Assistant Liaison Representatives WILLIAM A. ANDERSON, Program Director, Earthquake Systems Integration, Division of Biological and Critical Systems, National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C. BRUCE A. BAUGHMAN, Hazard Mitigation Branch, Public Assistance Division, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C. FRED COLE, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. ROBERT D. GALE (deceased), U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, D.C. EDWARD M. GROSS, Chief, Constituent Affairs and Industrial Meteorology Staff, National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Maryland RICHARD J. HEUWINKEL, Senior Policy Analyst, Office of Policy and Planning, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM HOOKE, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Washington, D.C. PAUL KRUMPE, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. J. E. SABADELL, Program Director, Division of Biological and Critical Systems, National Science Foundation, Washington, D.C. ALAN SWAN, Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. GERALD F. WIECZOREK, Office of Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Engineering, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia ARTHUR J. ZEIZEL, Office of Natural and Technological Hazards Programs, State and Local Programs and Support, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C. LAWRENCE W. ZENSINGER (alternate), Chief, Office of Disaster Assistance Programs, State and Local Programs and Support, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Washington, D.C.

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 Acknowledgments Special thanks are due to the following individuals for their contributions to this report: MIKE CARTER, Hazards Management Group, Inc., Washington, D.C. NICK COLLINS, Florida Division of Emergency Management GERALD C. CORCORAN, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Biloxi, Mississippi GUY DAINES, Pinellas County Emergency Management, Florida EMERY DAVIS, Building Official, City of Gulfport, Mississippi Col. C. HILTON DUNN, JR., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile, Alabama CHARLES K. ELEUTERIUS, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi JIM GENESSEE, Mississippi Emergency Management Agency MARTINO GEORGEN, SR., Building Official, City of Biloxi, Mississippi Lt. D. H. GRIFFIN, Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport, Mississippi WADE GUICE, Harrison County Emergency Management, Mississippi MICHAEL HESSIG, Former Graduate Student, Clemson University, South Carolina JOHN HOLMES, Meteorology Department, NSTL, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi KENNETH LELAND, Former Graduate Student, Clemson University, South Carolina RICHARD D. MARSHALL, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland DOUGLAS MASSENGALE, SR., Building Inspector, Mobile County, Alabama

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 JOHN MURDEN, Former Graduate Student, Clemson University, South Carolina JAMES PIERCE, SR., Chief Building Inspector, Mobile County, Alabama ROBERT PROFITT, Resident, Pascagoula, Mississippi WILLIAM W. SCHROEDER, University of Alabama, Dauphin Island GEORGE STRAUGHN, Baldwin County Emergency Management, Alabama HANK TURK, Jackson County Emergency Management, Mississippi ROSE YOUNG, Mobile County Emergency Management, Alabama

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 Preface Hurricane Elena posed special problems for an unusually large section of the Gulf Coast well before it came ashore on September 2, 1985. Following an erratic and difficult-to-forecast course, the hurricane threatened a coastline from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Sarasota, Florida. Considerable wind damage occurred in this area to structures that were ostensibly designed to resist such extreme wind conditions. From the beginning, the disaster survey team decided that it could best help mitigate future hurricane damage not only by compiling a catalog of hurricane structural damage and emergency response actions, but also by undertaking a more comprehensive study that carefully established the wind conditions in the storm, reviewed in depth the building control process used in the area, and conducted necessary structural and wind tunnel tests. Since similar design conditions and building control procedures exist along hurricane-prone coasts from Texas to South Carolina (with the exception of southern Florida), the conclusions drawn from such a detailed study of performance in Elena should be relevant to a very large number of buildings. This approach went well beyond that followed in other disaster reports issued by the Committee on Natural Disasters and required considerable time and personal initiative on the part of the survey team members. It required several years to complete. In the meantime, relevant findings have been published as they have become available (for example, Sparks, 1987a and 1987b; Sparks and Saffir, 1989; Sparks and Singh, 1989). These findings have already been considered by a task committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers and have influenced the drafters of the Standard Building Code and the Uniform Building Code.

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 This page in the original is blank.

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 Contents 1   EXECUTIVE SUMMARY   1     Meteorology   1     Warnings and Evacuation   1     Injuries and Deaths   3     Damage   3     Summary of Findings and Recommendations   3 2   METEOROLOGICAL   9     Synoptic History   9     Nearshore and Landfall Storm Characteristics   12     Forecast Guidance   17     Storm Surge and the SLOSH Model   20 3   PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE   27     The Warning Process   27     Elena and the Gulf Coast's Responses   29     Evaluation   32 4   WIND DAMAGE TO BUILDINGS   41     Wind Damage in Mississippi   41     Wind Damage in Alabama   76 5   CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS   91     Postdisaster Studies   91     Wind Conditions   92     Other National Weather Service Activities   94     The Evacuation Process   95     Performance of Buildings and Other Structures   97

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985     REFERENCES   102     APPENDIXES   105 A.   Structural Failures in Mississippi Schools   105 B.   Shopping Center Damage: A Detailed Analysis   110 C.   Damage to Metal Buildings: A Detailed Analysis   112

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast August 29 – September 2, 1985

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Natural Disaster Studies: Volume Two, Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast - August 29–September 2, 1985 This page in the original is blank.