Monday, September 9, 2019

Episode 489 (9-9-19): Revisiting Storm Surge After Hurricane Dorian

Click to listen to episode (5:13)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 9-6-19.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of September 9, 2019.

MUSIC and SOUND – ~14 sec – “Storm surge is a dangerous event during a hurricane, where furious winds are driving deadly flows of water from our seas to our shores.”

That’s a stark message from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, about storm surge.  NOAA defines storm surge as “an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides…[and] produced by water being pushed toward the shore by the force of winds” associated with the storm.

During Hurricane Dorian in the first week of September 2019, storm surge—along with high winds and heavy rainfall— was predicted to cause some of the most severe impacts experienced along the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Dorian won’t be the last Atlantic tropical cyclone ever to threaten Virginia or other coastal areas with storm surge—it may not even be the last one this year—so that storm’s unwelcome arrival is a good time to revisit a Virginia Water Radio episode on storm surge, done previously in response to other hurricanes.  For an introduction to storm surge potential, have a listen for about 90 seconds to excerpts from, first, a 2013 National Hurricane Center [NHC] video, and second, a 2010 Virginia Department of Emergency Management [VDEM] video; the latter includes a list of Virginia areas most vulnerable to storm-surge flooding in any given storm.

SOUND/VOICE – NHC ~38 sec – “I’m Daniel Brown, hurricane specialist at NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami.  Storm surge is the deadliest hazard associated with hurricanes. It’s a rise in the sea level by water being pushed to the shore by the force of the wind within the storm. But storm surge is not just a coastal event.  In some areas, the seawater can travel well inland with devastating consequences.  Storm surge is strongly influenced by a hurricane’s track, forward motion, intensity, and size.  Changes in any of these storm characteristics will significantly alter the amount of storm surge.”

SOUND/VOICE – VDEM ~47 sec – [Ellipses indicate places where portions of the original video were omitted from the audio segment used in this episode.] “Atlantic hurricanes and tropical storms can put Virginia’s coast at risk for flooding.  Near the coast, such flooding could be caused by storm surge.  It can increase the normal high tide by 15 feet or more.  Wind-driven waves on top of the storm surge can cause severe damage.  Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, the Middle Peninsula, the Northern Neck, the Eastern Shore, and areas along the James River are all vulnerable to storm surge. ... If you live in an area that may flood, you should be prepared to leave immediately when officials issue an evacuation order for your community. ... Know your risk.  Be prepared before the storm hits. ...”

For more information on storm surge, visit the National Hurricane Center’s “Storm Surge Overview” Web site, online at

Here’s hoping for safety and recovery for people and places in the path of Dorian and any other tropical cyclone.

We close with about 25 seconds of tropical cyclone-inspired music.  Here’s “Tropical Tantrum,” composed for Virginia Water Radio by Torrin Hallett, a graduate student at Manhattan School of Music in New York.

MUSIC – ~27 sec - instrumental


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.   For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  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 the latest revision of a storm-surge-focused episode timed for particular tropical cyclones.  The previous episodes are the following: Episode 337, 10-10-16, on Hurricane Matthew storm surge; Episode 134, 10-29-12, on Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy storm surge; and Episode 385, 9-11-17, on Hurricane Irma storm surge.

The sources of the audio in this episode are the following:
Excerpt 1 – “Storm Surge and the SLOSH Model/Run from the Water, Hide from the Wind” (2 min./36 sec.), 2010, accessed at;
Excerpt 2 – “Hurricane Preparedness Week: Storm Surge,” May 15, 2013 (1 min./25 sec.), online at You Tube at;
Excerpt 3 – Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Virginia Hurricane Evacuation: Storm Surge” (2 min./48 sec.), August 26, 2010, accessed at

“Tropical Tantrum” was composed by Torrin Hallett in May 2017.  Mr. Hallett is a 2018 graduate of Oberlin College and Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio; as of 2019, he is a graduate student in Horn Performance at Manhattan School of Music in New York.  More information about Mr. Hallett is available online at  “Tropical Tantrum” was also included in the following other Virginia Water Radio episodes:
Episode 369, 5/22/17, on the upcoming Atlantic tropical storm season in 2017;
Episode 423, 6/2/18, on the upcoming Atlantic tropical storm seasons in 2018;
Episode 438, 9-17-18, on hurricane basic facts and history.
Virginia Water Radio thanks Mr. Hallett for composing this piece for Virginia Water Radio.

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


Satellite image of Hurricane Dorian on 9/6/19, 9:06 a.m. EDT.  Image accessed online at, on 9/6/19, 9:30 a.m.

Map of Hurricane Dorian warnings cone as of 9/6/16, 8 a.m. EDT, from the National Hurricane Center.  Image accessed online at, on 9/6/19, 9:45 a.m.

Map of storm surge watches and warnings area for Hurricane Dorian, issued on 9/6/19, 8 a.m. EDT, by the National Hurricane Center. Image accessed online at, on 9/6/19, 9 a.m.  The online image includes the following “Product description”: “This graphic displays areas that are under a storm surge watch/warning.  A storm surge warning indicates there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours.  A storm surge watch indicates that life-threatening inundation is possible somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours.  All persons, regardless of whether or not they are in the highlighted areas shown in the graphic, should promptly follow evacuation orders and other instructions from local officials.”

Wind-speed probabilities map for Hurricane Dorian as of 9/6/19, 2 a.m. EDT, issued by the National Hurricane Center. Image accessed online at on 9/6/19, 9:45 a.m.


Used for Audio

Jason Samenow and Andrew Freeman, Dorian slams N.C. Outer Banks with 95 mph winds, charges toward southeast Va., southeast New England, in The Washington Post, 9/6/19.

National Hurricane Center, Public Advisory 52a on Hurricane Dorian, 8 a.m. EDT on 9/6/19, accessed at,

National Hurricane Center, “Audio Briefing for 9/6/19, 9:04 a.m. EDT, accessed online at; the specific URL for this podcast was

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/Wakefield, Va. Forecast Office, “Storm Surge Warning,” 9/6/19 at 5:06 a.m. EDT, online at, accessed on 9/6/19 at 11 a.m.

The Weather Channel, Hurricane Dorian Battering South Carolina, North Carolina With Flooding Rain, Storm Surge, High Winds, Tornadoes, 9/5/19, approx. 1 p.m. EDT.

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 segment 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 Preparedness for Hurricanes and Other Tropical Cyclones

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 determine whether or not they are in a zone most at risk from an approaching tropical cyclone, in order better to respond when emergency managers may be calling for evacuations or other actions.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management, “Virginia Hurricane Evacuation Guide,” online (as a PDF) at


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

Following are links to previous episodes on severe weather and its impacts.

Episode 272, 6-29-15 (Madison County in 1995).
Episode 328, 8-8-16 (flash flooding in general).
Episode 442, 10-15-18, (historic-record water level marker dedication at New River).
Episode 486, 8-19-19 (Nelson County in 1969).

Storm surge
Episode 134, 10-29-12 (from Superstorm Sandy).
Episode 337, 10-10-16 (from Hurricane Matthew).
Episode 385, 9-11-17 (from Hurricane Irma).

Episode 342, 11-14-16 (research via virtual reality).
Episode 463, 3-11-19 (preparedness and annual statewide drill)

Tropical Cyclones (including hurricanes and 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).
Episode 423, 6-2-18 (annual season-preview episode).
Episode 438, 9-17-18 (basic hurricane facts and history).
Episode 474, 5-27-19 (annual season-preview episode).


The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2013 Music SOLs

SOLs at various grade levels that call for “examining the relationship of music to the other fine arts and other fields of knowledge.”

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Patterns, Cycles, and Change Theme
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
6.7 – natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

Grades K-6 Matter 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.

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.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

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.

Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.