Systems like Tropical Storm Laura in the tropics can bring storm surge, which is salt water from the Gulf of Mexico that is pushed toward the shore by the force of winds swirling around a tropical system.
And that is the most deadly part of a storm.
Jamie Rhome is the Storm Surge Specialist/Team Lead at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
He says the reason we evacuate in this nation is large because of storm surge, “Contrary to what most people believe, we don’t lose that many people due to wind.”
We saw the devastation of storm surge last year when Category 5 Durricane Dorian sat over the Bahamas for 24-hours straight.
“So imagine if that scenario would’ve landed on U.S. soil in a major metropolitan area,” Rhome explained. “I think that’s what we’re up against with storm surge on the west coast of Florida. It hasn’t happened for many people in their lifetime so they just think it can’t happen or won’t happen”
That’s why Rhome, who is the storm surge expert with the NHC pushes out a separate storm surge forecast before every storm.
And depending on predictions, you may be asked to evacuate.
“I can tell you, the west coast of Florida – the entire west coast of Florida – is probably one of the most vulnerable areas anywhere in the continental United States and probably one of the areas that worries me the most.”
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For more disaster preparedness maps visit floridadisater.org.