Understanding the Power of a Storm Surge

by Categorized: Science Date:

The greatest potential for damage in Connecticut from Sandy may come from storm surges across the southern coast of the state. Storm surges occur when strong winds literally push sea water toward the shore, causing the water to pile up on itself and creating waves dramatically higher than normal tides.

Current projections from the National Hurricane Center suggest a 50-50 possibility that coastal areas in Fairfield County will see storm surges as high as 5 feet, and a 10 to 20 percent possibility of surges as high as 10 feet. Smaller surges are expected farther east. In New London, for example, current models show a 50 percent possibility of 3-foot surges and a 10 to 20 percent chance of 6-foot surges. During Tropical Storm Irene, the surge ranged from 3 to 6 feet.

The map below shows the current projections for the likelihood of a five-foot storm surge along the coast.

Click here for a Flash animation from the National Hurricane Center showing the devastating power of a very large storm surge.

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