Hurricane season is approaching, and as Floridians, we understand the destruction and devastation hurricanes and tropical storms can cause. According to Bloomberg.com, a major cause of damage is from storm surge. Storm surge, plainly stated, is an unusual rise of water over and above normal during a storm or hurricane.
According to Jamie Rhome, team leader of the Storm Surge Unit at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, storm surge relates to roughly 50% of lives lost during tropical storms or hurricanes. An example of devastation due to storm surge was seen when more than 1,500 lives were lost when water rose 19 feet during hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
As scary as a storm surge may seem, there is good news for residents along the coast of the U.S. mainland. Starting the beginning of this 2015 hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center will post storm surge alerts, in addition to their hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings. These alerts will keep those in any location where water may ride to at least 3 feet above normal informed and alerted to move to higher ground.
In the past, we have only been given information based on the Saffir-Simpson scale which only categorizes storms based on wind speeds. The storm surge alerts will be in an "experimental phase" this year, where the center will evaluate and make changes to the program if necessary. Even though these alerts are in an experimental phase, the warnings and watches for storm surges from the National Hurricane Center should be taken seriously.
In addition to these new storm surge warnings, it is also important for you to practice your own judgement, and evacuate to higher ground if you see water rising steadily in your area.
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