What is storm surge?

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Storm surge (Photo provided by FEMA)

Storm surge is water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm.

This advancing surge combines with the normal tides to create the hurricane storm surge, which can increase water levels by 15 feet or more.

Wind-driven waves also can raise water levels to devastating heights – causing severe flooding in coastal areas.

Because much of the densely populated U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coast coastlines lie less than 10 feet above sea level, the danger from storm surge is tremendous.

In general, the more intense the storm, and the closer a community is to the right-front quadrant of the storm, the larger the area that must be evacuated.

The problem is always the uncertainty about how intense the storm will be when it finally makes landfall.

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