As the 2021 hurricane season approaches, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned us to be cautious of its effects. A storm surge happens to be one of them. If you are living near the coast, you should pay attention to this issue because it can be disastrous. Get yourself well-informed regarding this phenomenon and know how to prepare yourself for it.
Understanding How The Storm Surge Occurs
Also known as a tidal surge, or storm flood, a storm surge is the flooding of coastal areas caused by storms or hurricanes. The event is similar to a tsunami, on a lesser scale. Even so, a storm surge can be strong enough to destroy the whole city in one swoop.
A storm surge happens due to the presence of a storm or hurricane above the sea surface. The pressure from the storm will push the seawater around it. As the high-speed wind spins and moves, the water accumulates beneath it and moves along with it. As the storm approaches and hits the land, it also pushes the pile-up water along.
How Bad Can It Get?
The storm surge can rise high and go far inland, depending on various factors. If it is weak , the effects would be shallow flooding by a beach. However, a powerful and large surge can be strong enough to knock homes from their foundations. The flooding can last up to many hours and will recede after the hurricane is over.
During a storm surge, the water level can rise to more than 20 feet higher than the normal sea level. It can crash the land up to 30 miles away from the coastal line. Although it may sound scary, this number is still significantly lower than a tsunami, which can go a thousand miles further.
What Affects the Size of A Storm Surge?
Needless to say, how big the surge can be depends a lot on how big the storm itself is. Naturally, the larger the storm, the larger the surge it may develop. More powerful winds will also accumulate more water buildup, which means more land area is at risk of getting swept away.
Another crucial factor is the slope form. Coasts with gentle slopes tend to have higher surges than ones with steeper slopes. Bays and rivers can also set the water higher along the way as they give more chances for the water to accumulate.
Ocean tides also have an impact on the height and distance of the storm surge. High tide will make the surge even higher, which may lead to more devastating effects inland. As the moon and sun influence the ocean tides, the size of the storm surge also depends on the time it happens.
The NOAA predicts that this year’s hurricane season will be quite active. Predictably, there could be around 13-20 storms with at least six to ten of them developing into hurricanes. Hence, we can’t ignore the risk of storm surges that are likely to happen. If you live near the coastline, make sure you know the proper safety protocols.
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