Hurricane Florence: the hazard of storm surge, defined


Why this class 2 storm might nonetheless be very harmful.

Hurricane Florence is a few day away from landfall off the coast of North Carolina, and it poses many threats to life and property within the southeastern US. However maybe probably the most harmful risk comes from its storm surge.

The surge, or coastal flooding, tends to be the deadliest facet of hurricanes. As wind from the storm pushes water onshore a number of ft above the traditional tide, it might lure folks of their houses, wash away complete homes, and make rescue missions harrowing and gradual.

Take a look at what occurred when a large storm surge hit the Texas coast from Hurricane Ike a decade in the past. It’s not fairly.

Florence could also be downgraded to a Class 2 storm, however previously few days, it has truly elevated in measurement. “It’s type of like going from the dimensions of the state of Georgia to the dimensions of the state of Minnesota,” Colorado State College atmospheric scientist Chris Slocum says.

The bigger the realm with tropical storm-force winds, he says, the extra potential for these winds to push water onshore, and the larger the impression of storm surge. Plus, the area might even see greater than 30 inches of rain, which is able to add to the floodwaters.

Sam Ellis/Vox
Storm surge happens when hurricane winds push water onshore, greater than the traditional tide.

“Put merely, Florence is a ‘Class 5 flood risk,’” the Climate Channel reports. Pay no thoughts to the precise wind pace; floods are coming. And the storm surge might final for 4 days, or seven or eight high tide cycles (excessive tide comes about as soon as in each 12 hours.)

The Nationwide Hurricane Middle has issued storm surge warnings — that means flooding is imminent — alongside a lot of the North Carolina coast and a part of the South Carolina coast.


The truth that Florence is anticipated to maneuver slowly because it approaches landfall means there’s numerous power and time for storm surges to build up alongside shorelines, bays, rivers, and inlets. Per the Nationwide Hurricane Middle’s newest flood predictions for the North Carolina shoreline, greater than 9 ft of storm surge — think about a wall of water almost the peak of a basketball hoop — could accumulate in some areas.

The Climate Channel has created a reasonably dramatic, and scary visualization of what that appears like. 9 ft of water is like being submerged in a diving pool.

“The best storm surge inundation is anticipated between Cape Worry and Cape Hatteras, together with the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers and western Pamlico Sound,” the Nationwide Hurricane Middle warns in its newest forecast. “It is a life-threatening state of affairs.”


Take a look at an interactive model of the map above by way of NOAA. You possibly can zoom in in your space of curiosity to see the storm surge prediction. In case you reside in these areas, you already know try to be evacuated to greater floor. And also you additionally understand it’s by no means secure to drive by way of flooded streets.

Find out how to observe Hurricane Florence:

  • The Nationwide Hurricane Middle has a web page updating each few hours with the newest watches and warnings for Florence. Check it out.
  • Vox has a map with that updates with the latest storm forecast track.
  • Comply with the Nationwide Hurricane Middle on Twitter; it would hold you updated with all the newest forecasts, hazards, and warnings. Additionally observe its Charleston, South Carolina, branch.
  • Comply with the Capital Climate Gang’s Twitter account. These of us are inclined to live-tweet storm updates.
  • Right here’s a Twitter list of weather consultants by way of meteorologist Eric Holthaus. These consultants offers you up-to-the-second forecasts and warnings.

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