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What Is Storm Surge?

Storm surge is a devastating part of hurricanes. Storm surge is not simply high waves. It is the abnormal rise in sea level as water is pushed toward shore by the force of the hurricane winds.

The advancing surge, combined with regular tides and wind-driven waves, can raise the average water level fifteen feet or more. Low lying areas near the ocean are particularly vulnerable. New Orleans, though located over a hundred miles up the Mississippi River, has lost much of the marshes and islands that used to provide some protection from storm surge.

Image from the National Weather Service’s JetStream – Online School for Weather.