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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
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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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
×

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
×

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
×

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.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
×

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
×

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.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
×

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

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
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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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
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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.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
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Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast

August 29 – September 2, 1985

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 1991. Hurricane Elena, Gulf Coast: August 29 - September 2, 1985. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/1765.
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Hurricane Elena, following an erratic and difficult-to-forecast course along an unusually large section of the Gulf Coast, posed special problems from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Sarasota, Florida, well before it came ashore on September 2, 1985.

Considerable wind damage occurred in this area to structures that were ostensibly designed to resist such extreme wind conditions. Because similar design conditions and building control procedures exist along other U.S. hurricane-prone coasts, the conclusions drawn in this detailed book catalog the structural damage caused by the hurricane and emergency response actions, establish the wind conditions of the storm, review in-depth the building control process used in the area, and conduct necessary structural and wind tunnel tests relevant to a large number of communities along the coastal areas.

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