Though we often talk generally about the seriousness of a hurricane, a storm surge, in particular, can be one of the most dangerous and damaging parts. According to The National Hurricane Center, a storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane.
A storm surge occurs when a storm generates a rise of water significantly above a predicted astronomical tide, according to the National Weather Service.
"Storm surges are interesting," Kerry Emanuel said, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT. "They are one of the major sources of damage caused by hurricanes. They are like tsunamis but they are not generated by earthquakes but by hurricane winds."
The dramatic rise in water level often causes extreme flooding in coastal areas, including property damage, erosion of beaches and coastal highways, fleeing of animals from the flooded areas, and even death.
The severity of a surge is impacted by several factors, including: wind intensity, forward speed of the storm, the angle of the approaching storm, and the width and slope of the continental shelf.
If you live in an area prone to storm surges, there are ways to prepare. Be sure to listen for public weather warnings issued for your area. Battery-operated radios are ideal, as strong winds can knock out power.
Know how to shut off the gas and electricity in your home, in case you are instructed to by local authorities.
Have a home emergency kit prepared including first aid supplies and flashlights. Know where important documents and supplies are located in case of a forced evacuation.
Above all, obey evacuation orders. If an evacuation is ordered, it is an emergency situation. It is dangerous and potentially life-threatening to remain in the area.
SEVERE SURGES IN RECENT HISTORY
Hurricane Ike - 2008 Ike, a category 2 hurricane, resulted in surges between 15 and 20 feet above normal tide levels along the Bolivar Peninsula of Texas and in the Galveston Bay area.
Hurricane Katrina - 2005 Known as one of the most devastating hurricanes in recent history, Katrina caused surge flooding that soared up to 28 feet above normal tide level.
Hurricane Dennis - 2005 Hurricane Dennis struck much of Florida and stretched to inland portions of the southeastern U.S. Storm surge flooding was between seven and nine feet, and caused severe damage.
Hurricane Isabel - 2003 Isabel made a name for itself as one of the worst hurricanes in recent years. Storm surges reaching 8 feet over normal tide levels spread into Virginia Maryland, Delaware and Washington D.C.
Thank you for your patience during our recent Comments outage. Comments have returned, including comments on previous stories & blogs before the outage. As before, Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.
Storms packing heavy rain and mountain snow will take a break beginning during the middle of this week, while further drought relief looks promising.
A pair of storm systems will dampen Republic Day celebrations across India on Thursday.
Fog will continue to limit visibility and cause slick surfaces across Germany over the next several days.
Hypothermia is one of the main concerns for anyone who spends extended time outside in the cold.
A multi-day outbreak of severe weather killed at least 19 people and brought devastation to communities across the Southeast on Saturday and Sunday.
Gusty winds and snow will sweep across the north-central United States from Monday night to Tuesday night.
The death toll from rounds of severe weather across the South over the weekend has risen to at least 18.
A storm will bring major disruptions to the northeastern United States into Tuesday.