Imagine this scenario: You live in a coastal region during hurricane season-typically late May through November on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts- and weather officials warn of a tropical cyclone that has developed into a hurricane. The storm is headed for your area but in the hours leading to its predicted landfall, it veers north and misses your state.
You are safe, right? Not necessarily. When hurricanes hit land, they create high winds and heavy rains, which can cause damage and flooding, but the storm surge of a hurricane is often its most deadly force.
A storm surge is the rise in elevation of ocean water as it nears the shore and the dangerous waves created by it. The National Weather Service says these “ocean swells” can hit land hundreds of miles beyond a hurricane.
Listed below are a few effects of ocean swells:
- Rip currents
- Dangerous waves that can quickly overwhelm swimmers
- Roads and structures are compromised
Though a storm can “mix up” the water in a way that is inviting to surfers and body-surfers, for swimmers and spectators drawn to the display, it is imperative to heed all water safety warningsin the wake of a hurricane or tropical storm.
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