In order to address concerns that individuals and emergency managers were focusing too much on wind speed in making decisions about preparation and evacuation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) worked together to create “storm surge” maps that will offer warnings about flooding connected to tropical storms and hurricanes. In an effort to spread awareness, NOAA has released a tip sheet specifically tailored to emergency managers and those in similar positions about the new map and how to make sense of the information it gives.
Unfortunately, “storm surge”—the sudden flooding that accompanies hurricanes—is often overlooked as a hazard in hurricanes. In Hurricane Sandy, for example, many properties sustained the bulk of their damage in the surging flood waters that followed the storm. With the release of the maps, emergency managers can access a color-coded, regularly updated map that helps them to prepare for areas that may need to be evacuated, as well as develop a tighter plan for emergency response.
The new storm surge maps, although still in the experimental phase, should help coastal municipalities better prepare themselves and their communities to act in the event of a hurricane or damaging tropical storm.
Limitations of the New Storm Surge Maps
Although the new maps will provide a wealth of information, emergency managers need to keep in mind that the maps represent predictions only. While forecasters do their best with the information they have, hurricanes are difficult to predict and can change in direction, intensity, etc., with little warning. While the maps have the potential to save many lives, they still can’t make up for planning, effective emergency strategy, and adequate hurricane insurance coverage.
For more information about protecting your municipality in a hurricane or collecting under a hurricane policy, call or email our experienced team today.