Storm Surge
Storm Surge
Before Event During Event After Event Resources

Before the Event


Storm Surge is a rise in the sea level that occurs during tropical storms or hurricanes. The storms produce strong winds that push the water onto shore, which can lead to flooding along the coast. Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property, and it doesn't always occur at the same time or location as the storm's hazardous winds. 

Beginning the 2017 Hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center will issue Storm Surge Watches and Warnings to highlight areas along the coast that have a significant risk of a storm surge if a tropical storm threatens. 

The National Hurricane Center's new definitions for a Storm Surge Watch and Warning are:

Storm Surge Watch: The possibility of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 48 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, a subtropical cyclone, or a post-tropical cyclone. The watch may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to limit the time available to take prote​​​ctive actions for surge (e.g., evacuations). The watch may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation, but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas. 

Storm Surge Warning: The danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving inland from the shoreline somewhere within the specified area, generally within 36 hours, in association with an ongoing or potential tropical cyclone, a subtropical cyclone, or a post-tropical cyclone. The warning may be issued earlier when other conditions, such as the onset of tropical storm-force winds, are expected to limit the time available to take protective actions for surge (e.g., evacuations). The warning may also be issued for locations not expected to receive life-threatening inundation, but which could potentially be isolated by inundation in adjacent areas. 

If a tropical storm or hurricane approaches your location, the National Hurricane Center will provide Storm Surge Watches and Warnings to residents, accompanied by a color-coded flood prediction map of the affected area. The map will show areas that have a significant risk of life-threatening storm surge. Storm surge doesn't always occur at the same times or locations as a storm's hazardous winds. Monitor local media outlets for important instructions from emergency management officials regarding evacuation requirements. The evacuations are generally needed to keep people safe from storm surge. It’s important to follow their directives and evacuate as soon as possible. 

Broward County has several evacuation routes, but they are vulnerable to hurricanes and flooding. Local officials usually request residents living on barrier islands and vulnerable coastal areas to evacuate in advance of a hurricane. Review the Evacuations and Shelters information provided in the A-Z Planner​ for additional emergency preparation tips. 

Early preparation is the key to staying safe during a storm. Compete the following:

  • Determine whether you live in an evacuation zone
  • ​​Homeowner's and windstorm insurance does not cover flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program​ is administered by the Federal government, and policies are sold through insurance agents. Consider flood insurance even if you live in an area not susceptible to flooding. Poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, and broken water mains can all result in flooding.
  • Develop a flood emergency action plan
  • Prepare an evacuation plan
  • Assemble a disaster supply kit


Updated April 2017