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Subject: E3) Which tropical cyclone has produced the highest storm surge?

Contributed by Chris Landsea (NHC) and Neal Dorst (HRD)

The Bathurst Bay Hurricane, also known as Tropical Cyclone Mahina, struck Bathurst Bay, Australia in 1899. According to (Whittingham 1958) it produced a 13 m (about 42 ft) surge, but other contemporary accounts place the surge at 14.6 m (almost 48 ft). Fish and dolphins were reported found ontop of 15 m cliffs.

However, more recent scholarship points to the fact that centeral pressure estimates for the storm call these surge values into question. Nott et al. (2014) Instead they propose that wave action, wave set-up, and wave run-up were responsible for driving the debris over the cliff tops. A more reasonable estimate of the surge height for Mahina might be 9 m (30 ft).

Last Revised May 12, 2014

Storm surge
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