MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG)- Hurricane Laura brought devastating winds and storm surge damage along the Louisiana and Texas Coast early Thursday morning. Meteorologist Colleen Peterson breaks down what storm surge is and why it’s the most dangerous part of a hurricane.
Many may hear the term storm surge and wonder what exactly storm surge is. Storm surge is triggered by strong southerly winds that piles waves on-top of one another. The worst storm surge occurs on the east side of a hurricane.
Lets say the waves are already crashing at 6 feet at high tide and a hurricane is coming towards the coast. the forecast has 10-12 feet of storm surge. That is the amount of water surging ontop of the waves leaving the total water level around 18 feet. That could easily clear two stories of a building. Mandatory evacuations are important to listen to as dangerous storm surge can be unsurvivable.
Where the storm surge occurs really depends on the location of landfall. The National Hurricane Center’s forecast track for Hurricane Laura was so accurate that it was only 1 km away from the forecasted landfall point.
The storm surge forecast is very important and they tend to go by the worse case scenario. After landfall, Laura shifted a little bit to the east sparing Lake Charles from getting the worst of the surge. Lake Charles approximately saw 4.5 feet of storm surge.
On the other hand, over to the east drone footage from the coast guard reveals what storm surge could do. Cameron and Chenier are cities that were on the east side of the storm and got the strong southerly winds that caused the storm surge to be devastatingly high. These cities possibly saw 15-20 feet of storm surge.
The National Weather Service is conducting surveys and will have the official numbers upon completion.