Featuring an international airport and the world’s busiest cruise
port, the Miami region has much to offer. Located on a broad plain between
the Florida Everglades and Biscayne Bay, the area’s elevation never
rises above 40 feet and averages at around six feet above sea level in
most neighborhoods, especially near the coast. While that makes for an
abundance of water activities, it also makes us susceptible to storm surge.
Storm Surge or Storm Tide?
Storm surge is the rise in the water level as a storm moves ashore, over
and above the predicted astronomical tides, and is caused primarily by
the strong winds in a hurricane or tropical storm. Storm surge should
not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise
due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. While
only 18 hurricane seasons have passed since 1851 without a known storm
impacting Florida, all locations along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts are
vulnerable to storm surge.
Contrary to popular belief, the extreme flooding caused by storm surge
is more responsible than wind for the injuries, deaths and property damage
resulting from a hurricane.
History of Storm Surge Damage
The 1926 Miami hurricane that devastated the greater Miami area had a storm
surge that flooded the streets with knee-deep water, carried yachts onto
shore and submerged the MacArthur Causeway under six feet of water. Hurricane
Donna roared across South Florida in 1960 with an 11-foot storm surge,
while Hurricane Betsy brought a six-foot storm surge in 1965 that flooded
Miami and Fort Lauderdale and is said to have nearly covered the island
of Key Biscayne. One of the greatest recorded storm surges was generated
by 2005's Hurricane Katrina, which produced a maximum storm surge
of more than 25 feet in Mississippi. Another record storm surge occurred
in New York City from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, with a high tide
of 14 feet.
Listen for Storm Surge Alerts this Season
The severity of a storm surge varies greatly, depending on numerous factors,
including the storm’s size, the strength of the winds, the storm’s
forward speed, the width and slope of the ocean bottom, the angle of the
storm’s approach to the coast and the shape of the coastline. With
storm surge being responsible for about half of the lives lost to tropical
National Hurricane Center in Miami will begin posting storm surge alerts beginning this hurricane season
for any location where water might rise at least three feet above normal.
These alerts will be in addition to tropical storm and hurricane warnings
and watches, which are mainly advisories about a system’s wind.
The hurricane center will issue surge watches 48 hours in advance and warnings
36 hours before the hurricane makes landfall. The warnings will appear
on this season’s maps as dark purple, while watches will be a lighter
shade of purple. It is important to note that the surge advisories may
cover different areas than the wind advisories because they exist exclusive
of each other – where you find one, you won’t necessarily
find the other. For example, Hurricane Ike was classified as only a category
two for wind, but it brought up to 20 feet of storm surge, killed at least
20 people and left more than $30 billion in damage when it hit Texas in 2008.
Since these alerts are new, it’s possible that the three-foot criteria
or how the messages are conveyed to the public could change next year.
The models predicting surge need to be updated every year because the topography of the coastline
is always changing. Nevertheless, if you see your neighborhood shaded
in purple on a hurricane center map this season, you should head inland
for higher ground.
Insurance Claim Attorneys
Here at Stabinski and Funt, P.A., we handle a wide range of
hurricane-related insurance cases. Whether you have a storm surge, wind damage, roof damage or water penetration
insurance claim on your house or business, we are prepared to fight for
you against insurance companies that have wrongfully denied or delayed
claims or failed to adequately cover the damage.
If you are trying to put your life back together after a hurricane or have
more questions about this topic, entrust your case to the attorneys at
Stabinski & Funt, P.A. For 45 years, we have helped people understand
their rights under the law. Contact us by calling (305) 964-8644 or
filling out a
free case evaluation form.
DISCLAIMER: Any information about past verdicts and settlements is based
on the unique facts of each case. Every case is different, and future
cases may not achieve the same or similar results. These amounts reflect
the gross recovery (before attorneys’ fees and expenses are deducted).