Weather Word Wednesday: Storm Surge

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 12:27 PM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - Hurricane Ian is pummeling Florida with damaging wind, torrential rain and storm surge.

Storm surge is the greatest threat to life and property during a landfalling hurricane.

But what exactly is it?

It’s the abnormal rise of water generated by a hurricane.

The strong winds generated by the hurricane push the water from sea to land.

Water piles up in the open ocean, moves toward the coast and has nowhere to go but inland, inundating land and property.

This is why many homes along coastlines are built higher up.

Storm surge between one and three feet may not necessarily have devastating impacts to homes and buildings along the coastline.

However, once there is 6 to 12 feet of storm surge, especially in lower-lying areas, the consequences could be catastrophic, putting homes and sometimes entire islands under water.

It is difficult to forecast storm surge for a specific coastal town.

Any change in the hurricane’s intensity, forward speed, size, pressure and angle at which the storm is moving toward the coast can mean the difference of a few feet.

The national hurricane center is predicting storm surge from Hurricane could be as high as 12 to 18 feet on the southwestern Florida coast.

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