storm surge

  • 5 Types of Floods You Should Prepare For

    The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word “flood” is water in places where it shouldn’t be. While that explanation is pretty accurate, there’s a lot more to floods than just that. For example, did you know there are five types of floods? It’s true, and they are something you should be aware of so you can know your risks. Some of these types of floods may be more applicable to some regions than others, but there is at least one type that can affect you. So here they are, the five types of floods, courtesy of our the good folks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory.


    River Flood

    Types of Flood - River FloodJust like it sounds, a river flood occurs when a river overflows its banks. This happens for a few different reasons. One, lots of rain. Whether it’s tropical systems (tropical storms, hurricanes, etc.) reaching land and dumping all its contents relatively quickly, or prolonged rain from thunderstorms in the same area, this kind of precipitation can cause rivers to flood. Melting snow can cause rivers to rise quickly, too. Remember all the snow that came for a visit last winter? Well, when it melted, rivers rose well above their banks. The Ohio River rose nearly six feet over its flood stage! So if you live in an area near a river, be prepared for a river flood.


    Coastal Flood

    Types of Flood - Coastal FloodIf you live near the coast, be ready for a coastal flood. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), these are “caused by higher than average high tide and worsened by heavy rainfall and onshore winds.” Lower elevation also plays a factor in coastal water flooding up on land.


    Storm Surge

    Types of Floods - Storm Surge - NOAA Courtesy of NOAA

    Another type of flood found on the coast, storm surges are caused by severe storms. Strong winds, large waves, and low atmospheric pressure all help the tide rise abnormally high. Combined with high tide, storm surges can raise water level by 30 feet or more. As you might imagine, having a surge of ocean water come crashing over land can cause some wide-spread flooding. Storm surges are one of the biggest threats to life and property during hurricanes. According to the NSSL, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.”


    Inland Flood

    Types of Floods - Inland FloodThere are a few different scenarios in which inland flooding can occur, although the end result is pretty similar. Steady rain over several days or intense precipitation in a short period of time can both cause the soil to become so saturated with moisture that it can’t hold anymore. When that happens…you’ve got yourself inland flooding. Rivers overflowing is another cause of inland flooding. But no matter what the cause, virtually any area is susceptible to this kind of flood. You might not think it, but even homes built on hills can be effected by inland flooding (trust me, I know from experience).


    Flash Flood

    Types of Floods - Flash FloodHeavy rainfall in a very short amount of time, the NSSL describes flash floods as usually taking place after less than six hours of rain, and “are usually characterized by raging torrents…that rip through river beds, urban streets, or mountain canyons sweeping everything before them.” Even without heavy rainfall, flash floods can come rushing in unannounced. These surprise visits can occur due to a dam failure, or after water is suddenly released, such as the breaking up of an ice jam. Check out the following video to see an example of a flash flood. Notice how fast the water moves, and the objects it carries with it.


    No matter where you live, flooding is a threat you shouldn’t ignore. While some areas are more prone to flooding than others, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Make sure you know the flood risks in your area and what to do to prepare.

    For more information about floods (and other disasters), click the image below!


    Types of Floods - Disaster Page

  • 4 Hurricane Myths You Need to Know

    Hurricane Myths - Inland Flooding Bridge Collapsed on I-10 (source: Desert Sun)

    A few months ago, former Hurricane Dolores brought wild, wet weather to parched southern California and Arizona. A bridge collapsed from flooding on Interstate 10 about fifty miles from Arizona. A resulting crash injured the driver of the pickup. Eleven sites in the Los Angeles area reported record rainfall – admittedly only a bit more than a third of an inch. Still, that was enough to cause closings and damage. Rain showers caused the Los Angeles Angels’ first rainout in 20 years.

    Here’s the fun part. The closest the center of the storm got to California was 300 miles west of Baja. At the time, it was just a post-tropical low-pressure center – too weak to even be considered a tropical storm. What’s left of Dolores is causing flash flood watches into Nevada and could travel as far as the Four Corners area and southwest Colorado.


    Hurricane Myth 1

    One hurricane myth is that the most deadly part of a hurricane is the storm surge, according to a Mobile, Ala. TV station’s story on hurricane myths.

    It’s not. Inland flooding like that from Dolores’ storms is more deadly because people don’t realize how fast water is moving.


    Hurricane Myth 2

    Another is that homeowner’s insurance will cover flooding from a hurricane’s rising water.

    Homeowner’s insurance should cover damage if the roof blows off, but most policies don’t cover damage from flooding, said Chris Hackett, director of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, in a story for

    A separate policy is necessary, either through the National Flood Insurance Program or private flood insurance.

    Yet only 10 percent of Americans have flood insurance, according to a 2010 poll from the Insurance Information Institute.

    Hurricane Myths - New Flood PlanesFloodplains change. Fires destroy vegetation on hills and create landslide hazards. People build on former meadows, which increases runoff because water can’t soak into concrete. So a building could be in a floodplain though it wasn’t in one before. has a tool to show if a building is in a likely flood zone.


    Hurricane Myth 3

    Another myth is that outside a high risk flood area people don’t need flood insurance. In fact, almost a quarter of claims to the NFIP come from moderate-to-low risk areas for flood. Like those where storms from Dolores are meandering. Flood insurance is not only available in those areas; it’s cheaper, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency brochure.

    Let’s say these storms from Dolores damage a couple of buildings. The President must declare a major disaster area before most federal disaster assistance can come into play. Also, disaster assistance usually is a loan that must be paid back with interest. A U.S. Small Business Administration disaster home loan usually lasts 30 years. A $50,000 loan at 4 percent interest costs $240 per month during that period. The average NFIP premium, on the other hand, is about $500 per year, according to FEMA.

    NFIP flood insurance provides up to $250,000 worth of coverage for a home and $500,000 for a business. It can cover possessions up to $100,000, so renters can get just that coverage.

    It does not cover improvements to basements, like carpeting and painting, though the insurance will pay for equipment like a furnace in the basement. It also won’t cover property improvements outside a home, loss of business, or temporary housing.


    Hurricane Myth 4

    Oh, and one more hurricane myth. Hurricane insurance. The truth is - except in rare cases - flood insurance doesn’t kick in until 30 days after purchase. So buying it when the hurricane is bearing down probably won’t help.


    - Melissa


    Hurricane Myths

  • Avoid These 3 Hurricane Hazards

    Have you heard the one about hurricanes in the middle of a drought? They’re called “The Carolina Hurricanes,” and their 6-year playoff drought is a real disaster. But hurricane (and hockey) jokes aside, let’s get down to business: hurricane hazards.

    Famous for torrential rain and lashing winds, do you know where most hurricane damage occurs? If you say flooding, you’re right! You rocked it, as they say, like a hurricane! Most hurricane damage is caused by flooding, and not generally from the rainfall, but from rising ocean levels called “storm surge.” This storm surge affects more than those on the coast, too; storm surges can penetrate many miles inland, as we recently witnessed in New Jersey during hurricane Sandy.


    1. Storm Surge

    Hurricane Hazards - Storm Surge National Hurricane Center

    A storm surge is a huge wave of water caused by a storm’s strong winds. They can reach as high as 20 feet and can span hundreds of miles of coastline. Storm surges can damage buildings, erode and cause damage to beaches, and are one of the leading causes of death during hurricanes.

    A prime example of the devastation a surge can cause is in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. According to the National Hurricane Center, “at least 1500 persons lost their lives during Katrina and many of those deaths occurred directly, or indirectly, as a result of storm surge.” This is one reason those ordered by government officials to evacuate should do so without delay. Staying behind could be disastrous.

    Because it’s easier to visualize a storm surge with, well, visuals, I have a couple videos that will help you understand what they are and how you can prepare. You can find a link to the second one on the banner at the bottom of this post. This first video, however, is right here, and comes to you from the U.S. National Weather Service will help you learn more about storm surges and where to go for more information regarding this hazard: and the National Weather Service have some great information on hurricanes hazards and how we can be ready.


    Before, during, and after a hurricane, keep an ear to your radio for updates from local authorities. Storm surges can quickly cut off escape routes, so if you hear the notice to evacuate, do so immediately before your evacuation route gets blocked by the surge. And whatever you do, please don't drive through flooded streets. You don't want to be caught trapped in a drifting vehicle.

    Besides storm surges, there are many other hazards associated with hurricanes. As if being in a hurricane isn’t disaster enough, tornadoes are also a common inland occurrence that accompany hurricanes. In fact, the National Weather Service claims that “in recorded history, almost every tropical storm and hurricane that has come onshore in the U.S. has produced a tornado.”


    2. Rip Currents

    Hurricane Hazards: Rip Currents

    Another hurricane hazard is rip currents. Rip currents aren’t your ordinary ocean shoreline current. Strong winds can almost reverse the natural shoreline waves that, instead of pulling water towards shore, actually pull away from shore. These currents are deadly, and hurricanes can produce these currents at our shores from hundreds of miles away. For example, the National Hurricane Center reported that “in 2008, despite the fact that Hurricane Bertha was more than a 1,000 miles offshore, the storm resulted in rip currents that killed three people along the New Jersey coast and required 1,500 lifeguard rescues in Ocean City, Maryland, over a 1 week period.”

    Even 1,000 miles offshore, Bertha produced strong rip currents that effected swimmers on the shores for over a week! That right there is a great reason to always check the water conditions before you hit the beach. After all, rip currents often form on calm, sunny days.

    If you do find yourself caught in a rip tide, don't fight it directly. Instead, swim sideways. Once you're out of the rip current, swim at an angle towards shore.


    3. High Winds

    Hurricane Hazards: Winds The Telegraph

    This article on hurricane hazards just wouldn’t be complete without talking about the high winds that accompany hurricanes. A category 1 hurricane starts with wind speeds of 74-95mph. As the wind speeds increase, so does the category number, until it reaches category 5, which is 157 mph and higher. Even a category 1 hurricane will have dangerous winds that will produce damage. As the category number rises, so will the damage it causes. Check out this link here for more information on hurricane categories, their wind speeds, and what to expect from the damage they will cause.

    If you do find yourself in or around a hurricane, seek shelter immediately. Go indoors and stay away from windows. And don't venture outside just to see what such high winds feel like. That's a recipe for getting pummeled by flying objects.


    Hurricanes do have something of a bright side. Unlike tornadoes and earthquakes, this natural disaster tends to give us several days’ notice, so there should be time to board up, alert the family and evacuate if need be. However, don’t expect to be able to stock-up once news of a hurricane hits; stores will be picked bare within an hour of when ground zero is identified.

    Knowing hurricane hazards can keep you safe during the storm.


    How do you prepare for these hazards? Let us know your thoughts in comments!


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