Storm surge in the San Francisco Bay/Delta and nearby coastal locations

Bromirski, PD, Flick RE.  2008.  Storm surge in the San Francisco Bay/Delta and nearby coastal locations. Shore & Beach. 76:29-37.


California’s San Francisco Bay/Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (bay/delta) estuary system is subject to externally forced storm surge propagating from the open ocean. In the lower reaches of the delta, storm surge dominates water level extremes and can have a significant impact on wetlands, freshwater aquifers, levees, and ecosys- tems. The magnitude and distribution of open-ocean tide generated storm surge throughout the bay/delta are described by a network of stations within the bay/delta system and along the California coast. Correlation of non-tide water levels between stations in the network indicates that peak storm surge fluctuations propagate into the bay/delta system from outside the Golden Gate. The initial peak surge propa- gates from the open ocean inland, while a trailing (smaller amplitude) secondary peak is associated with river discharge. Extreme non-tide water levels are generally associated with extreme Sacramento-San Joaquin river flows, underscoring the po- tential impact of sea level rise on the delta levees and bay/delta ecosystem.