Weather experts explore impact of storm surge from Hurricane Dorian

Published: Sep. 3, 2019 at 10:42 PM EDT
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With Hurricane Dorian’s arrival, people along the East Coast will experience a storm surge.

Coastal@VT is a team of people looking at the processes that occur in the coastal zone. Dr. Robert Weiss helps create simulations of coastal impacts of flooding events.

“The larger the wind speed, the larger the waves,” Weiss said.

Weiss said based on current hurricane models, coastal areas, like parts of North Carolina, will still experience the impact of a storm surge, meaning the wind blowing above the water creates enough pressure to suck up air and push out waves.

“The storm surge is a mechanism for waves to move into areas where they usually wouldn’t go, so if there would be no storm surge in a hurricane, the waves would not cause damage,” Weiss said.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Because the land is flooded, waves can now move inland and destroy homes and property.

“The models predict that it will stay offshore, bend around and move along the shoreline,” Weiss said. “Storm surges are significant there; they will be in the order of eight or nine feet, maybe in some parts higher, but again the worst part stays offshore.”

The East Coast will likely see much less of an impact than other areas already hit by this storm.

Weiss said this is also a good opportunity for officials to examine their coastlines. He said we need to think about what the future holds. Because the sea levels continue to rise, the coasts are not prepared to handle just how much water could end up on land.

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