EXPLAINER: What is a storm surge?

WSMV's Melanie Layden explains.
Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 5:47 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Whenever there is talk about hurricanes, people may often hear the term “storm surge”.

So what is a storm surge?

A storm surge happens when water levels rise over their predicted tide levels.

In a weaker storm, such as a tropical cyclone or tropical storm, this won’t do much damage. In those types of storms, water will just rise and there will be a high tide.

If there is a stronger storm, like a hurricane, that’s when it poses more of a threat to people and buildings.

A strong surge in water can cause structural impacts.

However, in a major storm like, like Hurricane Ian, a category 4 hurricane, the storm surge can be 20 feet or even higher in some cases.

This can cause devastating impacts to buildings and homes with major flooding concerns, which is why it’s so important to heed those storm surge warnings.

With Hurricane Ian, there are already storm surge levels in Florida at five feet or higher. They’re projected to get more than 10 feet as the storm gets closer to making landfall.