Luckily, in the last minute the Hurricane shifted westward, but the concerns remain.
Given the expected intensity of the flooding, some readers might assume that the dreaded surge would be the result of tsunami-like waves overwhelming the city’s beaches. But that’s not the case. As the Associated Press explains, the hurricane-force winds draw in water not just form the ocean, but other nearby bodies of water as well. However, forecasters say surges kill more people than the strong winds.
As Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned, the surge “will cover your house.” Already, at least three Floridians have died in the Keys.
“It’s not a wall of water or a tsunami. Simply put, hurricane winds push water toward shore. It can happen quickly and far from a storm’s center, inundating areas that don’t typically flood.
Storm surge doesn’t just come from the ocean. It can come from sounds, bays and lakes, sometimes well inland.”
And with a category four Hurricane like Irma, the water can rise quickly, creating a potentially lethal surprise.
Large hurricanes tend to create greater storm surge over a broader area, and coastal features such as bays can act like funnels and back water up into rivers and canals, said Jamie Rhome, head of the U.S. National Hurricane Center’s storm surge unit.
‘This is going to sneak up on people,’ Rhome said.”
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