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  1. Abstract Coastal flooding is one of the most costly and deadly natural hazards facing the U.S. mid-Atlantic region today. Impacts in this heavily populated and economically significant region are caused by a combination of the location’s exposure and natural forcing from storms and sea level rise. Tropical cyclones (TCs) and midlatitude (ML) weather systems each have caused extreme coastal flooding in the region. Skew surge was computed over each tidal cycle for the past 40 years (1980–2019) at several tide gauges in the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays to compare the meteorological component of surge for each weather type. Although TCs cause higher mean surges, ML weather systems can produce surges just as severe and occur much more frequently, peaking in the cold season (November–March). Of the top 10 largest surge events, TCs account for 30%–45% in the Delaware and upper Chesapeake Bays and 40%–45% in the lower Chesapeake Bay. This percentage drops to 10%–15% for larger numbers of events in all regions. Mean sea level pressure and 500-hPa geopotential height (GPH) fields of the top 10 surge events from ML weather systems show a low pressure center west-southwest of “Delmarva” and a semistationary high pressure center to the northeast prior to maximum surge, producing strong easterly winds. Low pressure centers intensify under upper-level divergence as they travel eastward, and the high pressure centers are near the GPH ridges. During lower-bay events, the low pressure centers develop farther south, intensifying over warmer coastal waters, with a south-shifted GPH pattern relative to upper-bay events. Significance Statement Severe coastal flooding is a year-round threat in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, and impacts are projected to increase in magnitude and frequency. Research into the meteorological contribution to storm surge, separate from mean sea level and tidal phase, will increase the scientific understanding and monitoring of changing atmospheric conditions. Tropical cyclones and midlatitude weather systems both significantly impact the mid-Atlantic region during different times of year. However, climate change may alter the future behavior of these systems differently. Understanding the synoptic environment and quantifying the surge response and subbay geographic variability of each weather system in this region will aid in public awareness, near-term emergency preparation, and long-term planning for coastal storms. 
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  2. Extreme storm surges can overwhelm many coastal flooding protection measures in place and cause severe damages to private communities, public infrastructure, and natural ecosystems. In the US Mid-Atlantic, a highly developed and commercially active region, coastal flooding is one of the most significant natural hazards and a year-round threat from both tropical and extra-tropical cyclones. Mean sea levels and high-tide flood frequency has increased significantly in recent years, and major storms are projected to increase into the foreseeable future. We estimate extreme surges using hourly water level data and harmonic analysis for 1980–2019 at 12 NOAA tide gauges in and around the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. Return levels (RLs) are computed for 1.1, 3, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 100-year return periods using stationary extreme value analysis on detrended skew surges. Two traditional approaches are investigated, Block Maxima fit to General Extreme Value distribution and Points-Over-Threshold fit to Generalized Pareto distribution, although with two important enhancements. First, the GEV r -largest order statistics distribution is used; a modified version of the GEV distribution that allows for multiple maximum values per year. Second, a systematic procedure is used to select the optimum value for r (for the BM/GEVr approach) and the threshold (for the POT/GP approach) at each tide gauge separately. RLs have similar magnitudes and spatial patterns from both methods, with BM/GEVr resulting in generally larger 100-year and smaller 1.1-year RLs. Maximum values are found at the Lewes (Delaware Bay) and Sewells Point (Chesapeake Bay) tide gauges, both located in the southwest region of their respective bays. Minimum values are found toward the central bay regions. In the Delaware Bay, the POT/GP approach is consistent and results in narrower uncertainty bands whereas the results are mixed for the Chesapeake. Results from this study aim to increase reliability of projections of extreme water levels due to extreme storms and ultimately help in long-term planning of mitigation and implementation of adaptation measures. 
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  3. Coastal flooding poses the greatest threat to human life and is often the most common source of damage from coastal storms. From 1980 to 2020, the top 6, and 17 of the top 25, costliest natural disasters in the U.S. were caused by coastal storms, most of these tropical systems. The Delaware and Chesapeake Bays, two of the largest and most densely populated estuaries in the U.S. located in the Mid-Atlantic coastal region, have been significantly impacted by strong tropical cyclones in recent decades, notably Hurricanes Isabel (2003), Irene (2011), and Sandy (2012). Current scenarios of future climate project an increase in major hurricanes and the continued rise of sea levels, amplifying coastal flooding threat. We look at all North Atlantic tropical cyclones (TC) in the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS) database that came within 750 km of the Delmarva Peninsula from 1980 to 2019. For each TC, skew surge and storm tide are computed at 12 NOAA tide gauges throughout the two bays. Spatial variability of the detrended and normalized skew surge is investigated through cross-correlations, regional storm rankings, and comparison to storm tracks. We find Hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Isabel (2003) had the largest surge impact on the Delaware and Chesapeake Bay, respectively. Surge response to TCs in upper and lower bay regions are more similar across bays than to the opposing region in their own bay. TCs that impacted lower bay more than upper bay regions tended to stay offshore east of Delmarva, whereas TCs that impacted upper bay regions tended to stay to the west of Delmarva. Although tropical cyclones are multi-hazard weather events, there continues to be a need to improve storm surge forecasting and implement strategies to minimize the damage of coastal flooding. Results from this analysis can provide insight on the potential regional impacts of coastal flooding from tropical cyclones in the Mid-Atlantic. 
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  4. Abstract

    Extreme precipitation events are arguably one of the most important natural hazards in many areas of the globe, impacting nearly every societal sector. In the Northeastern United States, extreme precipitation events have been shown to be increasing with several recent events garnering national attention (i.e., Ellicott City Maryland 2018; Tropical Storm Lee 2011). The NOAA Atlas 14 product is the nation's standard for estimating the magnitude and frequency of site‐specific extreme precipitation events, containing both precipitation frequency estimates, as well as associated confidence intervals. The Atlas uses surface stations, primarily from the National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Program, and statistical methodologies to provide point‐based precipitation exceedance probability estimates for several durations and potential recurrence intervals. Unfortunately, the number and quality of Cooperative Observer sites varies greatly over space and time. This research compares observed precipitation extremes from a high‐resolution statewide mesonet to those estimated by the Atlas 14 product for a 10‐year recurrence interval at several precipitation durations. Results of the analysis indicate that Atlas 14 underestimates the number and magnitude of extreme precipitation events across the state of Delaware at longer event durations (360‐ to 1,440‐min). At shorter durations (5‐ to 240‐min) the Atlas 14 estimates are more closely aligned with the observations from the high‐resolution precipitation network. These results suggest that caution should be exercised when using Atlas 14 estimates for engineering standards and hydrologic studies, especially for longer duration events. Therefore, a more rapid update cycle for revision of the Atlas 14 product should be considered, as a changing climate regime may be responsible for the differences identified in this research.

     
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