What Is Storm Surge and How to Protect Yourself

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

Storm surge can be one of the greatest threats to life and property along the coast during a hurricane. Storm surge is caused by the storm pushing water toward the shore. Many factors impact how severe the storm surge may be during a storm, but even a small amount of water can have devastating impacts.

It only takes about 6 inches of rushing water to knock over an adult and only about 2 feet of water to sweep away a vehicle. This even includes larger vehicles like trucks or SUVs.

Beginning with the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center will be issuing a Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for areas of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts at risk of storm surge from a tropical system. This map has been developed to show where storm surge could occur and how high above ground the water might reach. The map will be available on the National Hurricane Center web site at http://www.hurricanes.gov when the situation warrants hurricane watches and warnings.

The map will be experimental for at least two years, however this tool has the potential to be a very valuable tool for use in protecting lives and property in the event of a tropical cyclone. Residents or visitors to coastal areas should always be alert for potential severe weather and should stay tuned to NOAA weather radio or local media for information from local authorities.

For additional information on storm surge, visit the National Hurricane Center web site at:  http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge/

The National Hurricane Center has created a video shown below to explain the new Storm Surge Map and how it will be used.