70+ Unheard Storm Surge Facts That You Should Know | Kidadl


70+ Unheard Storm Surge Facts That You Should Know

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Storm surges have been the reason for many hurricanes caused by the ocean rising.

A storm surge along coastal areas is a massive threat to life and property. One hurricane, Hurricane Katrina, in 2005, was a devastating storm surge that caused a lot of damage to people and property.

Living in coastal areas is nothing short of living on the edge. With the constant threat of tsunamis, cyclones, and hurricanes, people living on the coast have learned to live with a fear of nature. One such devastating phenomenon is the storm surge. Read this article to learn more about it.

Introduction To Storm Surge

Living along a coastal side can be quite challenging due to the unpredictable nature of the sea. A storm surge is one of the unpredictable behaviors of the sea. Storm surges are quick and happen without any prior intimation; thus, people living in low-lying areas should be prepared for such events well in advance. Let's find out what a storm surge is and some interesting facts associated with them.

  • An abnormal rise in water levels causes storm surges, which are accompanied by intense winter storms, hurricanes, and high winds.
  • Storm surges are high waves that are preliminarily caused by air and wind pressure. They can occur anytime and can result in coastal flooding.
  • High waves and flooding are caused by the pushing of water by the wind and pressure onto the shore.
  • The aftereffects of a storm surge can be highly damaging when waters are icy during the winter.
  • Storm surges can also take place in lakes like the Great Lake.
  • Canada is one of the only countries where storm surges happen in every coastal area.
  • Storm surge forecasts never include the large waves from the sea that are actually the cause of severe damage and flooding.
  • These waves on top of the tide collapse once they reach shallow water. They also create high watermarks on several structures as they collapse.
  • Hurricane Katrina had one of the tallest watermarks, which was higher than the storm surge itself.
  • Water, which at times is forced towards the shore by the wind, has more impact on the surge than certain low-pressure intense storms.
  • During a hurricane or storm surge, the pressure and wind components vary from place to place, and to create a potentially strong surge storm several other factors contribute as well.
  • Storm surges are said to be a complex and strong phenomenon because the slightest changes in the angle of approach to the coast, forward speed, size of the radius of winds, and storm intensity can cause havoc in nearby areas.
  • Did you know that on the island city of Galveston, when a hurricane storm tide hit it (which was 8-15 ft (243.8-457.2 cm) tall!), at least 8000 people died. Adjacent areas on the mainland were also badly devasted by the surge and the astronomical tide.
  • The hurricane that occurred on the island of Galveston, was Hurricane Ike and came under a category two hurricane.
  • Hurricane winds from storm surges are so powerful that they can push a tall stream of water in the direction where the hurricane is traveling. The surface water can rise due to the low-pressure present under the storm or hurricane.
  • The Bolivar Peninsula in Texas and much of the Galveston Bay area, during a storm, had water towering to a height of 15-20 ft (457.2-609.6 cm) that was well above normal tide levels.
  • As well as tropical storms, tropical depressions also overwhelm coastlines with severe flooding if the winds are intense and strong enough.
  • Were you aware that very intense winter storms can create a life-threatening storm surge? A storm surge in Cape May, New Jersey, resulted from a blizzard on the East Coast in January 2016.
  • By measuring the difference between the observed rise of water and forecast tide, a storm surge can be measured alongside coastal areas.
  • Another method for measuring a storm surge is devised using pressure transducers kept along the coastline prior to an approaching tropical cyclone. This technique was tested in 2005 with Hurricane Rita.
  • If you thought storm surges have a high tide at 15 ft (457.2 cm), then you'd be surprised to know that some storm surges with very extreme storms have had high tides of up to 20-40 ft (609.6-1219.2 cm) as well!
  • Several important coastal cities and resort areas are on areas that are almost 10 ft below sea level, and a single intense storm tide can wipe away all buildings, ships, and railway tracks and fill subways with water within seconds if a hurricane were to hit.
  • Battering waves increase the destructive power of a surge as they crash down on buildings directly present along the coast.
  • These buildings can get demolished due to the enormous weight of the high tide carried by the storm or hurricane, and most structures we humans create are not built to withstand such heavy weights?
  • Hurricane Opal was a category four hurricane that caused landfall in Florida near Pensacola beach. This storm had a tide that was 24 ft (731.52 cm) tall! The storm surge damage caused by this hurricane from Pensacola Beach to Mexico Beach was severe.
  • The damages for Hurricane Opal were estimated to be around $3 billion!
  • Have you ever come across the term astronomical tides? These are high tides caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the ocean. The effects of these tides are seen mostly during full and new moons when Earth, the sun, and the moon are aligned.
  • A storm surge can cause immense destruction and causes many deaths when a hurricane strikes because of the deadly, giant ocean water that crashes on the land mercilessly. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in the Gulf of Mexico is one such example.
  • Hurricane Katrina was the United States' most horrible hurricane that caused the country catastrophic damage worth $75 billion on the Mississippi coast and New Orleans, one of the most destructive US hurricanes.
  • A tide storm surge is a tide so huge that it is measured to be well above astronomical tides (which are predicted beforehand) and is caused due to an abnormal rise in seawater.

Preparation For A Storm Surge

If you are a resident living near the coastline, you must be prepared for any adverse conditions that can occur if a hurricane, surge storm, or astronomical tide were to hit. So we have curated a list of preparation facts people use to stay safe.

  • Have a look around your house to locate any potential dangers that could occur in situations such as flooding.
  • If there are any such vulnerabilities, repair them as soon as possible.
  • Keep sandbags handy as they are a great tool to prevent water from coming into your house. Do consult your local emergency officials for more instructions.
  • You should know how to switch your electricity and gas on and off if, when necessary, local authorities request for them to be turned off.
  • Avoid storing any important documents and certificates in basements, especially if you live in areas that are below sea level. Try to keep them in elevated areas in your house.
  • Make sure you keep an emergency kit at home that has some medical supplies as well.
  • This emergency kit must be portable so that you can carry it anywhere easily.
  • Try to learn the basics of CPR and first aid from any non-profit emergency organization. They also teach certain other survival techniques like boating or swimming, so try to learn those as well.
  • Have an ample stock of flashlights, medications, batteries, and a radio.
  • If a warning to be evacuated is implemented in your area after a storm surge has been forecast, grab your emergency kit and keep it to hand at all times.
  • Ensure all windows in your basement are closed.
  • Ensure you have a full tank of gas, because, in adverse conditions, it could be next to impossible to stop for gas.
  • Avoid using the telephone except when required.
  • Candles should not be used during a storm; instead, use flashlights.

Differences Between Storm Surges And Floods

There is a lot of water involved in both floods and storm surges which is undesirable, but these phenomena are distinct from one another. Let's find out some differentiating facts between the two phenomena.

  • Wherever there are drainage and topography patterns that vary, flooding can take place.
  • These topographical patterns could be human-made or natural, but the one thing that can lead to flooding is an inefficient drainage system to release unnecessary water flow.
  • We often assume flooding occurs if there are water bodies like rivers, streams, and lakes present. But that's not always true, as flooding can occur in any low-lying areas that have no water body nearby.
  • Another factor that can cause flooding is heavy rains, which can be surprising, especially for residents who don't have any lakes or rivers near their homes.
  • In contrast, a storm surge occurs mostly near coastal areas close to large water bodies like bays, gulfs, and oceans.
  • A significant feature of a storm surge is the pushing of water, as the storm directs itself towards the shore.
  • Storm surges normally occur in the form of cyclones or hurricanes.
  • A storm surge can last for many hours, sometimes even a day in coastal areas!
  • A storm surge, unlike flooding, crushes buildings using repeated wave action.
abnormal rise in water levels causes storm surges

Length Of An Average Storm Surge

Storm surges are natural calamities that damage both life and property. They sweep homes, buildings, farms, and offices. The disaster caused is immense because of the duration. Find out how long a storm surge can last and other interesting facts.

  • Depending on the approaching hurricane's size and its track, a storm surge can have an average length of several hours.
  • A storm surge starts from the ocean and intense hurricane winds push the seawater up and inland.
  • A storm has low pressure in it, which also, in a way, helps in lifting water off the ocean floor.
  • The height and size of a hurricane determine how much devastation would be caused by a storm surge.
  • The surge in the storm appears gradually as the storm approaches the coast.
  • Water levels can rise to 20 ft (609.6 cm), and above them are some powerful waves that can create catastrophic damage.
  • Storms can penetrate inland after passing the coastline.
  • Some storms even move 30 mi (48.2 km) inland, such as Hurricane Ike in Texas.
  • Because of this, most Gulf coasts and east US locations are vulnerable to storm surges.
  • After a storm surge passes, do not turn on electric appliances in your home once the power returns. Turn them on gradually.
  • Inform local police if you see any damaged power lines in your area after a storm surge.
  • Don't use charcoal in your house after a storm as it produces a lot of carbon monoxide.
  • Take extra precautions with the food and water you consume after a storm, as it can be contaminated.
  • Filter out water for dangerous debris that could be there after the surging storm.
  • Any damage incurred in and around your area after a storm should be reported with photographs to the local authorities.
  • Wear protective gear while cleaning up your house or neighborhood.
  • You should not use appliances after the storm that have gotten wet during the storm.
Written By
Sridevi Tolety

<p>With a Master's degree in clinical research from Manipal University and a PG Diploma in journalism from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Sridevi has cultivated her passion for writing across various domains. She has authored a wide range of articles, blogs, travelogues, creative content, and short stories that have been published in leading magazines, newspapers, and websites. Sridevi is fluent in four languages and enjoys spending her spare time with loved ones. Her hobbies include reading, traveling, cooking, painting, and listening to music.</p>

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