Taylor County Surge Potential Map
Storm surge is the abnormal rise in water level caused by the wind and pressure forces of a hurricane or tropical storm. Storm surge can range from 4-6 feet for a minimal hurricane to greater than 20 feet for intense hurricanes. It produces most of the flood damage and drownings associated with storms that make landfall or that closely approach the coastline. The destruction along the coastline is not only caused by the flooding resulting from storm surge, but also the impact from waves.
Fact Sheet: Storm Surge Can Be Deadly - 10 Tips
Of the hurricane hazards, the storm surge has historically been considered to be the most dangerous as nine out of ten hurricane-related deaths were attributed to drowning from coastal storm surge. However, over the past two decades, as evacuation plans and warning systems have become more sophisticated, the number of deaths attributed to storm surge has decreased and the greatest number of hurricane related deaths was caused by inland flooding and cleanup accidents. That was until Hurricane Katrina (2005). The total number of fatalities directly related to the forces of Katrina is estimated to be about 1500 spread across four states, with about 1300 of these in Louisiana, about 200 in Mississippi, 6 in Florida, and one in Georgia (www.nhc.noaa.gov). Presumably, most of the deaths in Louisiana were directly caused by the widespread storm surge-induced flooding and its miserable aftermath in the New Orleans area.
Most of the 45 mile coastline for Taylor County is tidal marsh, all of which lies within the hurricane flood zone. The flood zone extends 2 to 8 miles inland from the coast. The height of the storm surge above mean sea level varies with hurricane strength, direction of travel and location of landfall. In Taylor County a Category 1 hurricane can produce a surge height of 10 feet above mean sea level; Categories 2 & 3, a 24 foot surge; and Categories 4 & 5, 34 feet above mean sea level. During a Category 5 hurricane, surge induced flooding can occur over 10 miles inland. The low-lying coastline and shallow bathymetry along the coast of Taylor County can produce some of the largest storm surges in the nation.