The Distinction Between a Storm Surge and a Flood


A hurricane’s class solely tells you about its wind velocity, however a lot of its devastation comes from flooding. With Hurricane Hilary approaching the West Coast, some areas might see as many as 10 inches of rain plus a storm surge that, the Nationwide Hurricane Heart says, might include “giant and damaging waves.”

What’s a storm surge?

The winds of a hurricane push water round, even whereas the storm remains to be within the ocean. Water that’s pushed onto land turns into the storm surge.

Consider how the tide can roll in from the ocean and canopy up land that was beforehand naked. It’s like that, besides you might have tides as well as to the storm surge, elevating water ranges even greater. (The surge plus the tide are referred to as a storm tide.)

What’s the distinction between a storm surge and a flood?

Technically, a storm surge is a flood, nevertheless it’s a particular sort. In a storm surge, sea ranges rise far above the place they usually would from an abnormal excessive tide.

Storm surges can flood giant areas alongside the coast, the Nationwide Extreme Storms Laboratory explains. Surges are, they are saying, “typically the best menace to life and property from a hurricane.”

The place does the storm surge occur?

Surges are anticipated to be significantly unhealthy in a stretch of the Baja peninsula of Mexico, from Punta Abreojos north to Ensenada. Coastal areas of Mexico and Southern California might see surf as excessive as 5 to 9 toes.

However flooding from a surge isn’t just a problem on the coast. Storm surges may cause flooding in upstream rivers, or in any low-lying areas the surge water reaches. Arroyos are anticipated to flood, and the Hurricane Heart says that city flooding and flash floods are probably, because of the surge and to rainfall. They describe the potential flooding as “uncommon and harmful.”

How a lot flooding ought to we count on?

Complete flooding is dependent upon the storm surge, the tides, and rainfall. It varies relying on the precise contours of the land. And your security within the storm is dependent upon different elements as effectively: Perhaps your home can be dry, but when all of the roads are flooded, that doesn’t assist you to a lot. Backside line, in the event you or a beloved one are within the space, an important map is an evacuation map.

However in the event you’re curious in regards to the predicted flooding, listed here are the Key Messages for Hurricane Hilary from the Nationwide Hurricane Heart. That is the first time a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for southern California, so the out there maps and predictions don’t appear to be as detailed as they generally are for Atlantic hurricanes. Control public advisories from, hearken to native warnings and evacuation orders, and skim our information for the most secure locations to be throughout a hurricane.

This publish was initially printed in 2018 and was up to date on Aug. 18, 2023 in reference to the method of Hurricane Hilary.


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