HURRICANE CENTRAL, Fla. - After Hurricane Charley, the National Hurricane Center started issuing separate forecasts for hurricane intensity and storm surge. And as meteorologists will tell you, you don't have to get a direct hit from a storm to experience devastating flooding.
Caused by wind forcing seawater onshore, storm surge can penetrate many miles inland and the worst is in the front right quadrant of a storm. That's because wind circulates counter-clockwise around the eye, meaning the wind in the front right quadrant was coming from the south, forcing water miles inland.
It's important to note that 20 gallons of water, enough to fill a large trash bag, weighs nearly 170-pounds. You get a whole bunch of water rushing in and it's the same intensity of an EF-2 tornado.
"No home is meant to withstand the force of moving water in storm surge," retired National Hurricane Center director, Bill Read told us.
Read explained that if you are in an evacuation zone, you are in an area prone to flooding from storm surge and if you are ordered to evacuate, heed that warning.
While storm surge quickly recedes following a storm, a potentially deadly threat remains: freshwater flooding may linger for days.
Torrential amounts of rainfall from a storm cause creeks to rise and roadways to become impassible.
You don't want to drive through a flooded roadway. You don't know how deep that water is or how fast that water may be flowing, said Robert Molleda with the National Weather Service in Miami.
Also, what lies in that floodwater can be dangerous or even deadly.
After a hurricane, you can have a lot of debris with flooding. That debris could include tree branches or power lines and those power lines could still be active and charged.
"As we know, electricity and water don't mix, so definitely not a good idea to be walking through deep water," Molleda explained.
And don't let a storm's size fool you. Slow-moving systems produce higher amounts of rainfall. In 2008, Tropical Storm Fay produced seven to ten inches of rain across portions of Southwest Florida.
Farther inland to Moore Haven, Fay produced more than 16-inches of rainfall in just 48-hours.
So prepare now before a storm hits. If you are in an area prone to flooding, prepare sandbags, secure valuables and be sure you have flood insurance, as well as homeowner's insurance.