AP Explains: How storm surges build up, destroy and kill

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By SETH BORENSTEIN

AP Science Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – Already the ocean is rising up and swallowing beaches, roads and anything else in the way of Hurricane Florence’s monstrous storm surge.

Storm surges aren’t walls of water, like a tsunami as commonly thought. Storm surge expert Hal Needham says they are more like domes of high water that form as the ocean spreads inland.

The high water has destructive waves on top, and it comes in addition to normal tides.

The National Hurricane Center says Florence’s storm surge will probably be 7 to 11 feet above ground in parts of North Carolina. Other areas can expect the surge to be taller than the average person – nearly 6 feet or higher.

Even if a house is elevated, that kind of storm surge can flood it.

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