Storm Surge Animations from NOAA's SLOSH model

By Jeffrey Masters, Ph.D. — Director of Meteorology, Weather Underground, Inc.

These storm surge water depth animations and envelope of high water still images for famous hurricanes show the modeled storm surge using NOAA's SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) storm surge model. The color-coded images show the water depth at each grid cell in the SLOSH model domain. Thus, the images depict the storm tide (the combination of a hurricane's storm surge height above mean sea level (MSL), plus an extra adjustment for how far above or below MSL the tide was), minus the elevation of the land surface (if the grid point is over land). The difference of the tide from MSL is shown at the bottom of the color legend. For example, the Hurricane Katrina simulation was done assuming the tide was 2.5 feet above MSL. SLOSH output is shown every half hour for the animations, and wind barbs showing the hurricane's wind speed and direction according to the Standard Station Model are superimposed on each frame of the animation. The envelope of high water images show the maximum depth of water that was simulated at each grid cell during the entire model run. The water did not reach this maximum depth simultaneously at the grid cells. SLOSH model runs are advertised as being in error by plus or minus 20%. SLOSH is the primary model used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is also the basis for Hurricane Evacuation Studies (HES). The SLOSH Display Package does not make storm surge simulations available for a number of famous storms, such as Wilma and Rita of 2005, so you will not see animations for a number of storms that would be interesting.

Storm Surge From Famous Hurricanes
Computed using NOAA's SLOSH (Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes) storm surge model.
Hurricane Ike, 2008: Texas and Louisiana
Hurricane Gustav, 2008: Louisiana and Mississippi
Hurricane Katrina, 2005: Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama
Hurricane Dennis, 2005: Florida Panhandle
Hurricane Charley, 2004: Florida Gulf Coast
Hurricane Isabel, 2003: Virginia and Maryland
Hurricane Lili, 2002: Louisiana
Hurricane Floyd, 1999: North Carolina
Hurricane Georges, 1998: Mississippi and Louisiana
Hurricane Georges, 1998: Virgin Islands
Hurricane Bonnie, 1998: North Carolina
Hurricane Opal, 1995: Florida Panhandle
Hurricane Andrew, 1992: South Florida
Hurricane Iniki, 1992: Hawaii
Hurricane Bob, 1991: NY, NJ, CT
Hurricane Hugo, 1989: South Carolina
Gloria, 1985: NY, NJ, CT
Hurricane Alicia, 1983: Texas
Hurricane Allen, 1980: Texas
Hurricane Eloise, 1975: Florida Panhandle
Hurricane Agnes, 1972: Florida Panhandle
Hurricane Camille, 1969: Mississippi
Hurricane Betsy, 1965: Louisiana
Hurricane Carla, 1961: Texas
Hurricane Donna, 1960: Florida Gulf Coast
Hurricane Gracie, 1959: South Carolina
Hurricane Audrey, 1957: Texas and Louisiana
Hurricane Hazel, 1954: North Carolina
Hurricane Carol, 1954: CT, RI, MA
New Orleans Hurricane, 1947: Louisiana, Mississippi
Great Atlantic Hurricane, 1944: NY, NJ, CT
Great Atlantic Hurricane, 1944: Boston
Long Island Express Hurricane, 1938: Rhode Island and Massachussetts
Labor Day Hurricane, 1935: Florida Keys
Chesapeake-Potomac Hurricane, 1933: Maryland, NC, DE
Great Galveston Hurricane, 1900: Texas
Sea Islands Hurricane, 1893: Georgia
Great September Gale of 1815: New England
Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635: Rhode Island
Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635: Boston

Weather Underground Storm Surge Articles

Storm Surge Safety Actions

  • Minimize the distance you must travel to reach a safe location; the further you drive the higher the likelihood of encountering traffic congestion and other problems on the roadways.

  • Select the nearest possible evacuation destination, preferably within your local area, and map out your route. Do not get on the road without a planned route, or a place to go.

  • Choose the home of the closest friend or relative outside a designated evacuation zone and discuss your plan with them before hurricane season.

  • You may also choose a hotel/motel outside of the vulnerable area.

  • If neither of these options is available, consider the closest possible public shelter, preferably within your local area.

  • Use the evacuation routes designated by authorities and, if possible, become familiar with your route by driving it before an evacuation order is issued.

  • Contact your local emergency management office to register or get information regarding anyone in your household whom may require special assistance in order to evacuate.

  • Prepare a separate pet plan, most public shelters do not accept pets.

  • Prepare your home prior to leaving by boarding up doors and windows, securing or moving indoors all yard objects, and turning off all utilities.

  • Before leaving, fill your car with gas and withdraw extra money from the ATM.

  • Take all prescription medicines and special medical items, such as glasses and diapers.

  • If your family evacuation plan includes an RV, boat or trailer, leave early. Do not wait until the evacuation order or exodus is well underway to start your trip.

  • If you live in an evacuation zone and are ordered to evacuate by state or local officials, do so as quickly as possible. Do not wait or delay your departure, to do so will only increase your chances of being stuck in traffic, or even worse, not being able to get out at all.

  • Expect traffic congestion and delays during evacuations. Expect and plan for significantly longer travel times than normal to reach your family's intended destination.

  • Stay tuned to a local radio or television station and listen carefully for any advisories or specific instructions from local officials. Monitor your NOAA Weather Radio.

Source: NOAA

Hurricane Preparedness

National Hurricane Center

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention