Storm Surge - Storm surge is a large dome of water
often 50 to 100 miles wide that sweeps across the coastline
near where a hurricane makes landfall. The surge of high
water topped by waves is devastating. The stronger the
hurricane and the shallower the offshore water, the higher
the surge will be. Along the immediate coast, storm surge is
the greatest threat to life and property.
If the storm surge arrives at the same time as the high
tide, the water height will be even greater. The storm tide
is the combination of the storm surge and the normal
- over 6,000 people were killed in the Galveston Hurricane of
1900, the most by the storm surgee.
- Hurricane Camille in 1969 produced a 25-foot storm tide in
- Hurricane Hugo in 1989 generated a 20-foot storm tide in
- Widespread torrential rains often in excess of 6 inches can
produce deadly and destructive floods. This is the major
threat to areas well inland.
- Tropical Storm Claudette (1979) brought 45 inches of
rain to an area near Alvin, Texas, contributing to more than
$600 million* in damage.
- Long after the winds of Hurricane Diane (1955) subsided,
the storm brought floods to Pennsylvania, New York, and New
England that contributed to nearly 200 deaths and $4.2
billion* in damage.
- Hurricane Agnes (1972) fused with another storm system,
producing floods in the United States which contributed to
122 deaths and $6.4 billion* in damage.
* Adjusted to 1990 dollars
- Hurricane-force winds, 74 mph or more, can destroy poorly
constructed buildings and mobile homes. Debris, such as signs,
roofing material, siding, and small items left outside, become
flying missiles in hurricanes. Winds often stay above hurricane
strength well inland.
- Hugo (1989) battered Charlotte, North Carolina (which is
about 175 miles inland), with gusts to near 100 mph, downing
trees and power lines and causing massive disruption.
- Hurricanes also produce tornadoes, which add to the
hurricane's destructive power. These tornadoes most often
occur in thunderstorms embedded in rain bands well away from
the center of the hurricane. However, they can also occurnear
Areas At Risk
- Coastal Areas and Barrier Islands. All Atlantic and
Gulf coastal areas are subject to hurricanes or tropical
storms. Although rarely struck by hurricanes, parts of the
Southwest United States and Pacific Coast suffer heavy rains
and floods each year from the remnants of hurricanes spawned
off Mexico. Islands, such as Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and
Puerto Rico, are also subject to hurricanes. During 1993, Guam was
battered by five typhoons. Hurricane Iniki struck the island
of Kauai, Hawaii, on September 11, 1992, resulting in $1.8
Due to the limited number of evacuation routes, barrier islands
are especially vulnerable to hurricanes. People on barrier
islands and in vulnerable coastal areas may be asked by local
officials to evacuate well in advance of a hurricane landfall.
If you are asked to evacuate, do soIMMEDIATELY!
- Inland Areas Hurricanes affect inland areas with
high winds, floods, and tornadoes. Listen carefully to local
authorities to determine what threats you can expect and take
the necessary precautions to protect yourself, your family,
and your property.
- Camille - August 14-22, 1969: 27 inches of rain in Virginia
caused severe flash flooding.
- Agnes - June 14-22, 1972: Devastating floods from North
Carolina to New York produced many record-breaking river
crests. The storm generated 15 tornadoes in Florida and 2 in
- Hugo - September 10-22, 1989: Wind gusts reached nearly
100 mph as far inland as Charlotte, North Carolina. Hugo
sustained hurricane-strength winds until shortly after it
passed west of Charlotte.
- Andrew - August 16-28, 1992: Damage in the United States
is estimated at $25 billion, making Andrew the most expensive
hurricane in United States history. Wind gusts in South
Florida were estimated to be at least 175 mph.