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Florence Bringing Substantial Storm Surge

Hurricane Florence will bring more than high winds and torrential rains when it reaches the Cape Fear Region this week. It will also bring a storm surge.  It’s not just a coastal phenomenon.

A storm surge is when the sea rises because of atmospheric pressure changes and wind associated with a storm. Its severity is affected by the tides, and the shallowness of the water.

The storm surge coming with Hurricane Florence will likely be substantial. The National Weather Service is forecasting 15-20 feet when the storm makes landfall along the Carolina coast.

And a surge is more than a beach event.

Steven Pfaff is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

“There's also a myth to where most people think that storm surge is just an ocean front thing. You have impact from storm surge well into anything tidally connected - the creeks and streams and rivers, waterways, anything that's connected tidally to water trying to flow around and flow out into the ocean. It can't because the water coming in backs everything up. So you can see the significant rises on some of these tidal creeks, I mean well inland we can have a storm surge from a situation like this.”

That means the Brunswick River, Alligator Creek, Sturgeon Creek, the Intracoastal Waterway, and others will all be rising and likely to overflow their banks.

Pfaff says a 12-foot storm surge can be catastrophic.

For WHQR News, I’m Vince Winkel.