Monday, May 23, 2011

Hurricane Preparedness 2011 - Storm Surge & Marine Safety

NOAA Storm Surge Products
Hurricane Storm Surge & Marine Safety
Second In the 2011 Series

Storm Surge Hazard

We continue our coverage of the 2011 Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at some of the hurricane hazards.  In particular, we'll start by examining the greatest potential for loss of life related to a hurricane, the storm surge.

Simply put, it is a dome of water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around the storm.  The advancing water, combined with the normal tides, can increase the mean water level by 15 feet or more.  The threat is increased if it combines with high tide.  Along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, the mean sea level is around 10 feet, so a storm surge above that level could cause catastrophic damage.


Hurricane track forecasting continues to improve, but the the average track error 48 hours prior to landfall for the Atlantic basin is still considerable.  The 24-hour to 48-hour window is often critical for decision-making. It is important not to focus solely on one storm surge product within this window. Storm specific uncertainties are accounted for in the probabilistic storm surge (p-surge) product, while the *MOMs and *MEOWs provide a worst case storm surge estimate at a regional level.  More

Marine Safety

Hurricanes have been the cause of many maritime disasters and unfortunately, there is no single rule of thumb that can be used by mariners to ensure safe separation from a hurricane at sea. Instead, constant monitoring of hurricane potential & continual risk analysis when used with some fundamental guidelines become the basic tools to minimize a hurricane's impact to vessels at sea or in port.

Marine safety isn't just for the small private boater,  the "big boys" need to pay attention here too. Cruise lines constantly monitor sea conditions as well as weather conditions, such as approaching tropical storms, both on the ship and in their headquarters offices.   The decisions they make are also coordinated with local and federal agencies such as NOAA's NHC and the local NWS office.

Ship Versus Hurricane Track Analysis
In the dynamic state of moving ships & hurricanes, recurring comparison of hurricane forecast track versus planned ship movement is mandatory. The continual monitoring of the latest official NHC forecasts compared to current or planned evasion options can greatly increase a mariner's confidence regarding vessel safety.  
Read More about Marine Safety.



We will continue coverage of Hurricane Preparedness Week by looking at high winds and tornado hazards tomorrow. Additional Hurricane information can be found in our static Weather tab.

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