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What is a storm surge?

A storm surge is an abnormal rise in the water level along a shoreline produced by a meteorological disturbance such as hurricanes.

As the hurricane winds pass over the surface of the sea they generate waves, which flood the shoreline. The rise in water level and the hammering effect of the waves produce a storm surge that can cause coastal erosion, flooding, scour roods, undercut sea walls and demolish buildings.

You are most at risk from a storm surge if you live close to the coast. A storm surge causes damage in two ways:

  • The rising water level floods areas that are usually beyond the waterline.
  • The breaking waves impact higher along the beachfront and as they crash into the shore, they send water rushing even further inland.

What to do if you are at risk from a Storm Surge

A storm surge is a feature of a hurricane, so take the following general precautions when a hurricane threatens:

  • Monitor the radio.
  • Wrap important personal items, family documents and electrical appliances in plastic bags and store away from the reach of floodwaters.
  • Move your refrigerator, stove, and furniture to a higher floor, or place them on building blocks and secure to the wall.
  • Shut off electrical power, gas and water supplies in areas in immediate danger of flooding.
  • Store all chemicals, fertilizers, insecticides, etc., in properly labeled waterproof containers and store away from floodwaters.
  • Move small boats to higher ground. Move larger boats and moor in a safe cove.
  • Be aware. If you see waves coming in higher than the normal tide, be prepared to evacuate.
  • Take all necessary flood precautions.