Storm surge is often most destructive
Storm surge, the rising mound of water that builds up and comes ashore during a hurricane, could be deadly as Hurricane Michael roars ashore along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
It’s often the most destructive threat from storms, and in this storm, it could be as high as 14 feet in parts of the coast.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the shape of the coastline makes it particularly vulnerable to storm surge. Water forced on shore by the storm could get trapped in estuaries and rivers and pushed inland.
A storm surge warning was in effect from the Okaloosa/Walton County line to the Anclote River, the hurricane center said. Life-threatening storm surge inundation was forecast in the warning area and likely to be highest during landfall Wednesday.
“Storm surge is absolutely deadly,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said. “Do not think you can survive it.”
Storm surge accounted for about half the deaths in hurricanes since 1970, according to the hurricane center. It caused most of the 1,200 deaths in Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
In Superstorm Sandy in 2012, stormsurge-induced flooding measured as high as 9 feet above ground in parts of New York and New Jersey, leading to billions of dollars in damage.
The tidal cycle affects storm surge, a rise of water generated by a storm over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm tide is defined as the water level rise because of the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide.
Storm surge flooding does not include floods caused by heavy rain from a hurricane, such as the disasters in the Carolinas this year during Hurricane Florence and in Texas last year with Harvey.