After high winds, storm surge is one of the major causes of damage to South Florida residential and commercial properties during a hurricane.
Hurricane Storm Surge is a rise in the overall sea level along the coastline caused by the combination of a hurricane’s strong winds and the physical geography of the Florida coastline. Hurricane force winds literally PUSH the ocean water toward the hurricane’s eye, creating a mound of water. The mound of water is then influenced by the slope of the coastline as the hurricane approaches land.
If the coastline is shallow, like in the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Keys, water cannot flow away from the mound and the mound grows and eventually rises over seawalls and other man-made protection barriers. On the other hand, if the coastline is deep, water can disperse and storm surge is less prevalent.
* It is IMPORTANT to note that unlike wind storm damage, most instances of storm surge are not covered by ordinary home owner’s insurance policies, but rather through a federal subsidized Flood Insurance Program that is quite affordable. The pain and anguish this technicality caused is most obvious from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which devastated the Gulf Coast. The majority of insurance claims were denied due to the damage being caused by storm surge and flooding.