Weighing the Risks

When hurricanes roar ashore they pose a threat to people and property. Damage can be caused by storm surge, strong winds, heavy rain, and often tornadoes. Depending on the storm, any one of these threats can cause major damage to property or loss of life. For example, slow moving Tropical Storm Fay (2008) resulted in rainfall totals of up to 27.55 inches in Melbourne, FL (NOAA)! Whereas Category 5 Hurricane Andrew (1992) had maximum sustained winds at 165mph during landfall in South Florida (NOAA).

However, along the coast storm surge is often the biggest threat. In a hurricane, the winds push ocean water onshore causing salt water flooding, which in many cases is more damaging than the high winds. When storm surge occurs during high tide, it can reach 20 feet or more! The only way to prepare for deadly storm surge is to evacuate.

After Katrina's (2005) storm surge hit Waveland, Mississippi, this tree was the only thing left standing on the property. Images courtesy of David and Kimberly King.

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NHC – Storm Surge