Storm surge is the high water generated by the storm’s winds while at sea. The surge is the height of the water over and above the predicted astronomical tide. This is distinguished from “storm tide,” which is the combination of surge and tide. When the storm approaches land, it pushes this elevated water onto the land, with energy levels that cause tremendous damage to human structures and rearrange natural coastal features. It is the most dangerous aspect of a storm, responsible for perhaps 75% of the deaths associated with tropical cyclones. A large storm surge can penetrate miles inland, destroying property, moving large amounts of sediment, and wiping the landscape clean of vegetation.
For more information about Storm Surge
- To appreciate storm surge impacts, check out the surge example at NOAA’s Storm Surge and Inundation. Note the animation is in shockwave format, so some tablets/iPads may not be able to play it directly, although Safari, Explorer, or similar browsers on other computers should be able to.
- The National Hurricane Center - Storm Surge Unit: Introduction to Storm Surge document illustrates many important key points related to storm surge.