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HURRICANE HAZARDS 101: How to prepare for the dangers of storm surge



Storm surge is often the greatest threat to property damage and loss of life during a hurricane, especially along the coast.

Key Highlights

Storm surges are high waves that are preliminarily caused by air and wind pressure.

A storm surge can cause immense destruction to property and loss of life.

Storm surges normally occur during hurricanes and can last for many hours or even days.


When a hurricane hits, you need to prepare for anything. That includes storm surges that can result in loss of life when major hurricanes make landfall. 

We saw the devastation a storm surge can cause in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina caused a powerful 27-foot storm surge, which penetrated 6 miles inland in many areas and up to 12 miles inland along bays and rivers. The surge even crossed Interstate 10 for several miles. Katrina caused an estimated $75 billion in damages and at least 1,500 lives were lost.

Learn more about AccuWeather's Hurricane Warning Service

A storm surge is an above-average rise in water along the coast. Wind speed and the speed of the hurricane help determine how much water pushes forward ahead of a storm. A storm surge, if large enough, could permanently alter the shape and size of coastal areas. 

If you find yourself in the path of a hurricane or tropical storm, you can prepare for storm surge by doing the following: HurricaneIan3

  • Determine hazards your location is most vulnerable to during a hurricane
  • Review past events to determine improvements that you could make
  • Perform a vulnerability assessment of all equipment, processes, and operations
  • Stay away from floodwaters
  • Flooding causes contamination of water systems and can bring pests like mosquitoes
  • With properties destroyed, businesses and employees will be disrupted by cleanup and loss of product 


AccuWeather's hurricane tracking is 3% more accurate than the National Hurricane Center and 13% more accurate on the intensity of the hurricane winds along the path. For example, AccuWeather was the only source to forecast a 16-20’ storm surge ahead of the disaster in Ft. Myers from Hurricane Ian that killed over 100 people. Our competitors predicted 12-16 feet, leaving many businesses in the path of that dangerous storm surge. Also, the forecasts from AccuWeather Hurricane Experts are often initiated well before the National Hurricane Center and any other source, updated more frequently, and have 14 unique layers describing impacts such as rainfall, wind gusts, the risk to lives and property that are exclusively made available by AccuWeather.

Partner with AccuWeather for Business and have the information you need to make the best weather-impacted decisions for your people and your business. You will also gain a competitive advantage by knowing the exact impact and timing of the weather.

  • Be aware: Get alerted when weather disasters will impact your business.
  • Be prepared: AccuWeather for Business offers critical solutions to dangerous weather situations.
  • Be safe: Protect your business, employees, and customers by making the best weather-impact decisions.

This storm season AccuWeather’s AssetReport will change how you and your organization react to hurricane threats. Whether you’re protecting a single asset or thousands, our end-to-end solutions provide the insights you need to enhance safety and reduce risk before, during, and after the storm.

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Partner with us to weather the storm and prepare your business for tropical impacts.