Hurricane Irma: Biggest Storm Surge Threat Along Florida’s Southwest Coast

LIVE SCIENCE – ANDREA THOMPSON

As the forecasted path of Hurricane Irma has shifted westward over the last couple of days, so has the biggest storm surge threat. Southwest Florida is now staring down the barrel of a surge of up to 15 feet (4.6 meters). But the rest of Florida isn’t getting away scot-free, with prolonged surge still expected along the east coast of the state.

There’s also the potential for rain to exacerbate surge flooding — or flooding resulting from water being pushed ashore by the hurricane — from the Keys to Georgia’s coast.

The first in line as Irma pulls away from the coast of Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane are the Florida Keys.

The archipelago faces a double whammy of surge as the storm moves through, said William South, a tropical weather meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Key West office. As Irma approaches from the southeast, its winds will be hitting the islands from the northeast, pushing water toward the Keys from Florida Bay and the nearshore Gulf of Mexico. But as the storm gets closer on Sunday (Sept. 10) morning, “the winds will abruptly turn to the south,” bringing in surge from the Atlantic, he told Live Science.

More on the story at Live Science.

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