Forecasts and Warnings
If you are currently experiencing a storm surge event, visit your local National Weather Service weather forecast office website for information about local surge impacts under coastal flood watches or warnings and hurricane local statements:
NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) monitors coastal flooding conditions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. NWS issues forecasts, advisories, watches, and warnings to provide details on a storm's impact on an area, such as the onset of storm surge, winds, and rainfall. These products may also suggest preparedness actions. Hurricane Local Statements summarize local impacts (i.e., county or parish level impacts) from storm surge. They transmit local evacuation and emergency shelter information from local officials. The Probabilistic Hurricane Storm Surge (P-Surge) exceedance products also provide potential storm surge impact information.
Storm Surge Scale and Forecasting
People have suggested that a storm surge-specific scale, or another scale for hurricanes specifically geared toward surge impact, should be developed. Unfortunately, such a scale likely would not be helpful or effective at conveying a storm surge's threat. Because storm surge is affected so greatly by differences in local coastal elevations (shallow waters enhance storm surge, the coastline can focus and amplify surge, waterways can carry surge inland), the surge in different areas from the same hurricane can have vastly different impacts. The National Weather Service's approach is to focus directly on conveying the depth of storm surge inundation expected. Storm surge inundation is referenced as height above ground level.
Because the greatest loss of life and economic damage from a hurricane is due to storm surge, NOAA is working to enhance the analysis and prediction of storm surge. The National Hurricane Center provides estimates of inundation in public advisories, and local weather forecast offices communicate this information in Hurricane Local Statements. The National Hurricane Center also provides storm surge probabilities during hurricane watches or warnings. In addition, the National Weather Service predicts storm surge heights that have a specific probability of being exceeded. For example, the day before Hurricane Irene made landfall, NOAA predicted storm surge in coastal North Carolina had a 10% chance of exceeding 9 feet.
In addition, some coastal weather forecast offices provide Impact Graphics when tropical cyclone watches and warnings are in effect. Graphics may indicate expected storm surge impacts.