Impacts of Multiple Hurricanes and Tropical Storms on Watershed Hydrological Processes in the Florida Panhandle
Hurricanes and tropical storms (TS) are infrequent but disastrous events to human lives, social activities, and terrestrial ecosystems in coastal regions. Using the Environmental Protection Agency (US-EPA)'s Hydrologic and Water Quality System (HAWQS) model, principal component analysis (PCA), and principal factor analysis (PFA), we estimated impacts of multiple hurricanes and TS on hydrological processes in agricultural and forested watersheds. Five hurricanes and four TS that passed near or through the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin (ACFRB) of the Florida panhandle from 1966 to 2018 were selected to estimate their impacts on rainfall, potential evapotranspiration (PET), evapotranspiration (ET), soil water percolation, surface runoff, stream discharge, groundwater recharge, and water yield (WYLD). Simulations showed that the category of hurricanes was not highly related to the amounts of rainfall, runoff, discharge, and WYLD. Based on PCA and PFA, PET and ET were highly and negatively, rainfall and discharge were highly and positively, and percolation, runoff, groundwater recharge and WYLD were moderately and positively affected by the hurricanes and TS at the ACFRB in the recent 50 years. This study provides water resource managers with critical insights into how multiple hurricanes and TS affected hydrological processes in agricultural and forested watersheds of the coastal region.