Monday, September 11, 2017

Episode 385 (9-11-17): Storm Surge in Irma and Other Tropical Cyclones

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:42).

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-8-17.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 11, 2017.

MUSIC and SOUND – ~14 sec

That’s a stark message from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, about storm surge.   The September 10, 2017, arrival of Hurricane Irma’s center in Florida made this a good week to revisit the subject of storm surge, which was also the topic of episodes on Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

NOAA defines storm surge as the “abnormal rise in seawater level during a storm, measured as the height of the water above the normal…tide, and caused primarily by a storm’s winds pushing water onshore.”  Along with extremely high winds and heavy rainfall, storm surge is expected to be one of Irma’s most severe impacts in Florida and possibly elsewhere, both in coastal communities and along inland waterways.  On September 8, the National Weather Service’s Miami Forecast Office predicted “life-threatening” storm surge for parts of its coverage area.

For an introduction to storm surge potential and how residents can prepare for future events, have a listen for about two minutes to excerpts from, first, a 2013 National Hurricane Center [NHC] video, and second, a 2010 Virginia Department of Emergency Management [VDEM] video, including a list of Virginia areas most vulnerable to storm-surge flooding.



As the second except noted, storm-surge information is available online from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  Here’s hoping for the best for people and places in the path of Irma and any future tropical cyclone.


For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show. In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


This episode is an updated version of Episode 337, 10-10-16 (Hurricane Matthew storm surge) and Episode 134, 10-29-12 (Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy storm surge).

The sources of the audio in this episode are the following:
Excerpt 1 - “NOAA Storm Surge PSA,” 2010, accessed at;
Excerpt 2 - “NHC Hurricane Preparedness Videos – Day 2: Storm Surge,”May 15, 2013, online at You Tube at;
Excerpt 3 – Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Virginia Hurricane Evacuation: Storm Surge” (2 minutes, 48 seconds), August 26, 2010, accessed at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


From the National Hurricane Center,, 9/8/17, 10 a.m.
From the Miami/South Florida National Weather Service Forecast Office, online at, 9/8/17, 10:30 a.m. EDT.
Hurricanes Irma (center), Jose (right), and Katia (left), as of Sept. 8, 2017, 9:15 a.m. EDT (1315Z or UTC). Photo from NOAA,, accessed on 9/8/17, 10 a.m. EDT.

Used for Audio

Jim Morekis, CEMA: Irma impact on Savannah could include Category 3 or 4 winds, possible storm surge over 10 feet, Connect Savannah [Ga.], 9/6/17.

National Hurricane Center, “Hurricane Irma Public Advisory, 9/8/17, 2 p.m. EDT,” online at

National Hurricane Center, “Storm Surge Overview,” online at  Among other items, this page includes an explanation of the factors that lead to storm surge, photographs and graphics, and two short videos.  Information on storm-surge potential and probabilities are also part of National Hurricane Center updates and advisories on any tropical storm.

National Hurricane Center, “Storm Surge Resources,” online at  This site includes several videos, including the ones excerpted for this episode.

National Weather Service, “Hurricane Sandy – October 29, 2012,” online at

Bo Peterson, U.S. Geological Survey deploys computer-trackable storm surge sensors in South Carolina, The Post and Courier [Charleston, S.C.], 9/8/17.

PBS NewsHour, “Nearly 2 million warned to flee destructive Hurricane Matthew in the U.S.,” 10/6/16, online at  The video includes an interview with then Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Craig Fugate in which he discussed the dangers of storm surge flooding along coastlines and inland.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management storm surge items, online at

For More Information about Tropical Storms and Severe Weather Preparedness
American Red Cross, “Hurricane Safety,” online at

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), “Hurricanes,” online at

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA)/Climate Prediction Center, “Atlantic Hurricane Outlook and Summary Archive,”

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Hurricanes,” online at

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Know Your Zone,” online at  This site allows citizens to know whether or not they are in a zone most at risk from an approaching tropical storm, when emergency managers may be calling for evacuations or other actions.

Virginia Department of Transportation, “VDOT and Emergency Response” (including hurricane evacuation information), online at

Virginia Water Central News Grouper posts on news, events, and information resources about hurricanes and other tropical storms, online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the Weather subject category.

The following previous episodes also focus on severe weather.

Episode 86, 10/31/11 (Historic-record water level marker dedication at New River).
Episode 192, 12/16/13 (Nelson County in 1969).
Episode 272, 6/29/15 (Madison County in 1995).
Episode 328, 8/8/16 (flash flooding).

Storm surge
Episode 134, 10/29/12 (from Superstorm Sandy).
Episode 337 – 10/10/16 (from Hurricane Matthew).

Episode 342, 11/14/16 (research via virtual reality).
Episode 358, 3/6/17 (preparedness).

Tropical Storms
Episode 163, 5/27/13 (annual season-preview episode).
Episode 215, 5/26/14 (annual season-preview episode).
Episode 266, 5/18/15 (annual season-preview episode).
Episode 317, 5/23/16 (annual season-preview episode).
Episode 330, 8/22/16 (mid-season outlook).
Episode 345, 12/5/16 (season-review episode).
Episode 369, 5/22/17 (annual season-preview episode).


This episode may help with the following Virginia 2010 Science SOLs.

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
2.7 – Weather and seasonal changes affecting plants and animals.
3.9 – Water cycle, including sources of water, energy driving water cycle, water essential for living things, and water limitations and conservation.

Grades K-6 Interrelationships in Earth/Space Systems Theme
2.6 – identification of common storms and other weather phenomena.
4.6 – weather conditions, phenomena, and measurements.
5.6 – characteristics of the ocean environment.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.6 – structure and dynamics of Earth’s atmosphere.

Life Science Course
LS. 10 - changes over time in ecosystems, communities, and populations, and factors affecting those changes, including climate changes and catastrophic disturbances.

Earth Science Course
ES.10 – ocean processes, interactions, and policies affecting coastal zones.
ES.11 – origin, evolution, and dynamics of the atmosphere, including human influences on climate.
ES.12 – weather and climate.

The episode may also help with the following Virginia 2015 Social Studies SOLs.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.6 – government at the national level.
CE.7 – government at the state level.
CE.8 – government at the local level.
CE.10 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World Geography Course
WG.2 - how selected physical and ecological processes shape the Earth’s surface, including how humans influence their environment and are influenced by it.
WG.4 - types and significance of natural, human, and capital resources.
WG.18 - cooperation among political jurisdictions to solve problems and settle disputes.

Government Course
GOVT.7 – national government organization and powers.
GOVT.8 – state and local government organization and powers.
GOVT.9 – public policy process at local, state, and national levels.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at