What is a storm surge

Storm surge

This drawing from 1683 shows a flooded city. In the middle of the picture the dike is breaking. In the background the ships are fighting the waves. The houses of the city are under water up to the first floor. People sit on the roofs and wait to be rescued by boats.

A storm surge is a particularly high level of flood. It occurs when additional winds sweep inland during normal high tide. As a result, the water rises even more than normal.

When a storm drives the water towards the coast and also enters a sea bay or a river mouth there, it rises higher than normal. If the water rises more than one and a half meters higher than the mean flood, it is called a storm surge. From two and a half meters one speaks of a severe storm surge. If the water is one meter higher, it is called a very heavy storm surge. Light storm surges occur several times a year, severe storm surges only every few years.

Particularly severe storm surges occur when the storm lasts for a long time. If it lasts over several ebb and flow phases, the water can only partially run back at low tide. At the next high tide it rises even higher than at the previous one.

This was the case, for example, with the storm surge in February 1962. It is also known as the “Hamburg flood” because Hamburg suffered particularly great damage and many deaths. At that time, a water level of five meters and seventy centimeters above the mean flood was measured. After this flood, the dikes were raised everywhere, so that later several even higher storm surges caused hardly any damage.

The North Sea coast in its current form was also created by many storm surges. The sea flooded many areas of land. Man reclaimed the land through dykes and protected it. Without dikes, large parts of northern Germany and the Netherlands would be flooded. Because of climate change, scientists expect sea levels to continue to rise. This means that even higher storm surges will arise in the future. The dikes must therefore be raised even further, or the people must give up part of the land.

  • In Scotland, this memorial stands for the 189 fishermen who died in a storm in 1881.

  • This French fishing boat is fighting its way through a storm.

  • This storm surge mark is reminiscent of the "Hamburg flood" in 1962.

There are also other search results for "Storm surge" from Blinde Kuh and Ask Finn.

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