MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) – Storm Surge is the most destructive part of a hurricane. It’s the water level rise associated with a hurricane. The low pressure and strong winds cause the water level to rise.
“It can cause devastating impacts and it can happen pretty quickly. It can go from no water to 20-30 feet of water in minutes,” Brandon Black, Meteorologist at NWS Mobile, explained.
Storm surge does NOT take into account rainfall or wave height. Heavy rainfall can contribute to water level rise that storm surge does not consider.
“It does not include waves, you could have 2-3 foot waves on top of that and it doesn’t include any other factors,” Brandon said.
Hurricane Sally saw a significant water level rise on the bayside. It caused multiple residents’ homes and businesses to be completely flooded.
“It came up to about right here and we expected it to come probably right about here and so it was definitely a surprise walking in,” Sammi Daily, Manager at Gulf Shores Seafood, explained. “We lost pretty much everything. Everything in our kitchen, everything out here. you know you try to be as prepared as you can.”
Sammi is the manager at Gulf Shores Seafood, Hurricane Sally to her was unforgettable with over 100,000 dollars in damage costs.
When it comes to water level rise, we are concerned with two things, storm surges and heavy rainfall. Gulf Shores Seafood lies on the bayside, so we are not only concerned with storm surges at the immediate coast but all the runoff from the heavy rainfall that can cause water levels to new heights.
“Alot of these smaller bays where several rivers move into a saltwater bay, you can get higher storm surge values in the north part of the bay.”
This season make sure you consider not only the storm surge forecast but the rainfall forecast as well. It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared