What to know about storm surge as hurricane season approaches

What to know about storm surges as hurricane season approaches

Storm surge has the potential to kill more people than any other aspect of a hurricane. How devastating it is to an area depends on many factors, including a hurricane's overall intensity, forward speed, and size. Additionally, the shape of the coastline and the angle a hurricane approaches it can increase or reduce how deep the water gets and how far the water then travels inland.

As pressure falls inside the hurricane the water then pills up. The piled up water is then pushed toward the shore by the force of winds around the storm.

The storm surge moves with the forward speed of the hurricane which on average is 10 to 20 miles per hour (mph).

Often times, storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property.

With this abnormal rise of water produced by the storm, imagine being stuck inside a house with nowhere to go and no one to help!

Hurricane Ivan slammed into the Gulf Coast as a Category 3 hurricane producing max sustained winds of 120 mph. The storm surge was outrageous across Northwest Florida, but at places like Flounders on Pensacola Beach, on the bayside, only a four-foot storm surge was produced. But total, in Northwest Florida some areas saw a 10 to 15-foot storm surge.

The National Hurricane Center now issues Tropical Cyclone Storm Surge Probabilities graphics, which show the chances of storm surge height. However, you always need to be prepared well before the storm even develops.

The best way to survive a storm surge is to:

  • Heed evacuation orders.
  • Know your Zone.
  • Fuel your car & get cash out of the bank.
  • Build a disaster supply kit.
  • Strengthen you home.

Storm surge is a very intricate phenomenon and it can be devastating. It is important to always stay prepared and be well ahead of the storm.

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