The 2014 hurricane season is still well over a month away, but federal officials are already planning some new approaches to this year's storm season. One of the new innovations from the NationalHurricane Center(NHC) is a color-coded map that will help coastal residents prepare for storm surges. Storm surges are the abnormal rise of sea water that happens during and after a major storm, and they are one of the most dangerous and overlooked aspects of hurricanes. The NHC is looking to change that. "This new forecast map will show how deep the water can be, and how far inland the storm surge can penetrate," says Jamie Rhome with the National Hurricane Center.
The idea of storm surges related to hurricanes should be nothing new to Texas coastal residents. "Hurricane Ike would be the prime example in your area of a catastrophic storm surge," says Rhome. "The Bolivar Peninsula just experienced massive, massive damage, and that's really what we're trying to help people understand." Still, with the passage of time since Ike and the influx of new residents, awareness and preparation for storm surges on the Texas coast has waned. Rhome says the same is true in other coastal regions. "Once you move off the immediate beach or off the immediate ocean front, the awareness and knowledge of storm surge drops really fast," he tells KTRH.
The new storm surge maps are not only designed to give people a better idea of how far inland the water will spread and how high it will rise, but also to help them understand why and when evacuations are ordered. "We also have evacuation zones that will tell you your vulnerability now, before the season, before a hurricane even forms," says Rhome. "It's imperative that people look up their zone now, before the season, to understand their overall risk." The new maps and evacuation zones are available at hurricanes.gov.