JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Hurricane Matthew's storm surge surpassed Dora's pushing water higher than any storm since the Hurricane of 1898. We know this from instruments that were set up just before Hurricane Matthew tracked into the First Coast.
Luckily saltwater stopped just feet from homes next to the Beach Boulevard bridge. Others weren't so fortunate. Wrack lines show where the water stopped. Debris washing up in a surge are visual markers to the extent of surge but waves and wind can bake these clues less accurate.
Channelside resident Mark Wilkinson swept away debris pushed up by the water the day after the storm passed. He nervously monitored the rise in water with online data during his evacuation. He knew his home was in a low spot.
His home is so vulnerable that a surge sensor was installed a few days before the storm in front of his driveway.
Teams of U.S.G.S hydrologists anchored hundreds of sensors from Florida to Virginia. A pressure transducer records the timing, extent and magnitude of overland storm tide under the Beach Boulevard bridge. Over a dozen more were distributed from Camden county to Flagler to capture the surge. Some along the mid Atlantic states recorded wave height.
During the worst of Hurricane Matthew, WJXT's Weather Authority used real time data streaming from a Rapid Deployment Gauge at the Vilano fishing pier to let viewers know the surge peaked at 7 feet.
Water rushed into the strets of downtown St. Augustine and flooded Flagler College. A sensor located at the St. Augustine Yatch Club recorded a peak surge just over 8 feet. Flagler Beach topped out at nearly 13 feet.
Fernandina Beach was nearly as high peaking at 6.91 feet. Mayport crested at 5 feet 22 inches marking the highest water level since the 1898 Hurricane. Matthews surge is higher than 1964 when Hurricane Dora hit.
The data will improve storm tide forecasts for future events. You can access the database with an easy to use online interface.http://stn.wim.usgs.gov/fev/#MatthewOctober2016
From this site you can search Hurricane Matthew along with previous storm events.