Irma's 15-Foot Storm Surge Could Demolish 1,000 Miles Of Florida Coast: "It Will Cover Your House"

Tyler Durden's picture

As we noted on Friday, sea-level analytics firm Climate Central had created a simulation based on the National Hurricane Center’s Coastal Emergency Risks Assessment storm surge and wave modeling that illustrated the devastating flooding in Miami that could result from Hurricane Irma’s storm surge. By overlaying the NHC data with a three-dimensional visual of the city obtained using Google maps, the firm created a realistic visual of what the city would look like under between seven and 11 feet of water.

Luckily, in the last minute the Hurricane shifted westward, but the concerns remain.

Given the expected intensity of the flooding, some readers might assume that the dreaded surge would be the result of tsunami-like waves overwhelming the city’s beaches. But that’s not the case. As the Associated Press explains, the hurricane-force winds draw in water not just form the ocean, but other nearby bodies of water as well. However, forecasters say surges kill more people than the strong winds.

As Florida Gov. Rick Scott warned, the surge "will cover your house." Already, at least three Floridians have died in the Keys.

“It's not a wall of water or a tsunami. Simply put, hurricane winds push water toward shore. It can happen quickly and far from a storm's center, inundating areas that don't typically flood.


Storm surge doesn't just come from the ocean. It can come from sounds, bays and lakes, sometimes well inland.”

And with a category four Hurricane like Irma, the water can rise quickly, creating a potentially lethal surprise.

“Large hurricanes tend to create greater storm surge over a broader area, and coastal features such as bays can act like funnels and back water up into rivers and canals, said Jamie Rhome, head of the U.S. National Hurricane Center's storm surge unit.


‘This is going to sneak up on people,’ Rhome said.”

But while the surge levels in Miami could be potentially life threatening, the threat to the Florida Keys, where Irma this morning made landfall at Cudjoe Key, is even more severe.

The National Hurricane Center forecasts water levels up to 15 feet (4 meters) above ground for the chain of islands and parts of the Gulf Coast, which are also expected to receive up to 25 inches of rain. And according to the Associated Press, the flooding threat could extend far beyond the path of Irma's eye. The Atlantic coast from Miami to Isle of Palms, South Carolina, could see up to 6 feet (2 meters) of storm surge.

Irma’s surge could ultimately flood 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) of coastline from Tampa Bay to the mid-South Carolina coast. Much of that land is less than 10 feet (3 meters) above sea level.

Much of Florida's southwest coast is uninhabited swampland, including a large section of Everglades National Park, but scientists warned the Everglades wouldn’t stop the flooding of affluent communities nearby, including Naples, the home of Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Forecasters say the surge will kill more people than the strong winds. Scott said it "will cover your house."

"The Everglades won't stop the potential flooding to inhabited areas," Rhome said.

In fact, some forecasters believe the storm will leave Naples underwater.

“The hurricane center's storm surge maps, showing deep inundation for Naples, worried Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach.


Look at Naples, the entire town of Naples is underwater,’ Klotzbach said. ‘That is horrible. God that looks awful.’”

North of Naples is the Tampa Bay area, which is also at risk of extensive flooding related to the surge. About 3 million people live in the area, which has a Busch Gardens theme park and baseball spring training grounds for the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays.

Already, the tide in Tampa Bay is going out, setting up the shoreline for a massive surge as Irma approaches.

A similar phenomenon occurred in Key West, as receding oceans left boats stranded on dry land.



Over the past fifty years, storm surges have accounted for about half of the deaths from hurricanes, tropical storms and cyclones in the US over the last half-century, according to a hurricane center study.

During the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane, the surge helped destroy nearly half the structures along a 40-mile (64 kilometer) stretch of the Florida Keys, killing more than 400 people, including World War I veterans working on a railway project. During Hurricane Katrina, storm surge flooding of up to 28 feet above normal tide directly or indirectly causing at least 1,500 deaths. Hurricane Sandy, which was technically classified as a post-tropical cyclone when it made landfall in New Jersey in 2012, was still large enough to drive catastrophic storm-surge related flooding along the New Jersey and New York coastlines.

* * *

With Irma having made landfall in the Keys just hours ago – though the first hurricane force squalls were felt late last night as the storm approached – Bloomberg is reporting that Florida Power & Light Company said that nearly 1.1 million customers statewide were without power Sunday morning, according to Bloomberg.  About 574,000 of those outages were in Miami-Dade County, while there were 360,000 in Broward and nearly 136,000 in Palm Beach County. The effects are being felt far from the center of the storm, due to its size.

Just before Irma’s landfall, Enki Research disaster modeler Chuck Watson said the storm’s trek up Florida’s coast could cost $192 billion and threatens $2 trillion of property. Total losses from Katrina reached $160 billion in 2017 dollars. Irma is “easily on track to be the new No. 1 storm unless intensity collapses,” Watson said. President Donald Trump said Irma is “a storm of enormous destructive power” while discussing preparations with his Cabinet.

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SumTingWongJr's picture

Yes, I make $7K a week on Shepwave.  Blowing other dubes is not that big a deal.  Swallowing is actually fun.

Uncertain T's picture

Perhaps the 7K is earned by trolling ZH.... Ha, and here you are doing it for free.

Fake Trump's picture

Actually not everyone in America hates Trump. If it is the case he won't get elected. The whole trouble  with him after he becomes the president he is just putting people off by his action or inaction and his big mouth and fast talking. Even those who voted for him.are pissed off. 

unsafe-space-time's picture

If you find the current situation tolerable you deserve what's coming to you.

Anteater's picture

One word, Benhamin.


One word, are you listening?

Yes, sir.

Salt River Project.

That's three words, sir.

cheech_wizard's picture

Great Scott, it's Governor Scott...


IridiumRebel's picture

This happened with Sandy. Irene happened the year before and it was so overblown that when Sandy occurred, people thought a bottle of vodka and a New York state of mind would prevail. The next morning people were fist fighting over Doritos and 4 gallons of gas. I was the only person in the neighborhood with power because I thought, "hey! Maybe owning a fuckin generator would be a wise purchase of 100 bucks!?!?" I watched movies and had a week off of work. Everyone else was in the dark relearning the worth of books.

TylerDurden6mil's picture

Sandy Hook or Sandy Storm, I'm confused at this point?

Miss Informed's picture

Yes, the real "existential threat" comes from North Korea of course. Their troops are massing on the border right now to take us over after the barrage of hydrogen bombs.

lasvegaspersona's picture

Te problem is what to do with 6 million people stuck in a city with no power a week after the storm.

Now they can just return and complain.

Had things gone another way they might have starved.

Bigly's picture

Can you imagine the kvetching in WPB and Boca?


I am concerned about looters if most people left.

38BWD22's picture



Kvetching...  Bwa ha.  You know those two towns I see...

Whoa Dammit's picture

The kevetching will be from the ones who evacuated to Atlanta. The buildings in Atlanta are not hardened off for the type of sustained winds we are about to get. And trees are already coming down causing spotty power outages.

"You made me leave my nice bingo games to go to a place that has no power! A place that ran out of bottled water! I should be at the deli now having a nice bagel. These people here in Atlanta don't know form bagels!....."   I would not want to be in the same car with any of them for the ride back to Florida.

Bigly's picture

I live in CT but in a commie town of upper middle class, JEWS, and blacks.

But I am an excommunicated (by me) catholic who endured catholic schools.


That said I know more Yiddish than the avg Joe for sure....

They all leave my area nearing retirement and almost ALL go to FLL, WPB and Boca. If they keep their house here, they reregister their cars in WPB ,cuz cheaper. They are usually white Cadillacs or lexus cars. 

I swear I can write a book on these people. They LIVE the stereotypes.

garcam123's picture

Boy people are going to be pissed!  The State should forgo state sales taxes for 3 months to compensate people for their unecessary expenses!

aloha_snakbar's picture

I always thought it would be cool to fish in my living room and not have to get off of the couch...

38BWD22's picture



In Key Biscayne after Andrew some of the residents were shark-fishing.

In their swimming pools (true).

Bay of Pigs's picture

"Demolish a 1000 miles of the coastline?".

Really? FL is 500 miles long.

indygo55's picture

Two coasts and lots of extensive inlets that go for miles. Thats where people built. Its so built up. Im on the Callahachee River 4 floors up right now in the middle of this and its just getting started. 

tmosley's picture

You REALLY aren't too bright, are you?

A. Boaty's picture

Bring back the math test.

Bay of Pigs's picture

Key word is "demolished" fuckhead.

More importantly to you, how many Bitcoins will all these people be using in FL for food and supplies in the next few days?

garcam123's picture


Thanks for the laugh!  I laughed out loud!!



Tiwin's picture

1350 miles o coast.

Not that the alarmist is right- he aint. More likely 50 to 150 miles of coast will be shredded in the south and 50 more in the sparsely populated part of the big bend.

One point about storm surge, it is much worse if the storm is approaching the coast dead on, then fabulous surges occur like in cat3 Katrina , glancing angle approaches not so bad-unless ot is your house.

Bay of Pigs's picture

Thank you. Thats EXACTLY what I thought, maybe a couple hundred miles.

garcam123's picture

And the everglades are a natural surge and wind buffer, they will absorb a lot of the initial water dump, if they still function.

Tiwin's picture

They do. The skeeters are an inch across, and if gars dont get you gators will. 

The mosqiotoes! Dear God Oh Dios! They SWARM on you. Its like a teevee commercial for insect repellant.

Toxicosis's picture

From the 1992 World Book: Florida Coastline: 1, 350 mi. (2,172 km) - 580 mi. (933 km) along the Atlantic Ocean; 770 mi. (1,239 km) along the Gulf of Mexico

political_proxy's picture

"This storm is irrefutable proof that hurricanes are windy wet."
-Al Goard

Ben A Drill's picture

Asking myself a question. Did all those retires from NY make a smart decision moving to Florida? Does it really matter what you paid for your condo if it's under water.

Fake Trump's picture

Florida is not my cup of tea anymore. Yellowstone? Another disaster soon. It will be a hot one like Fire and Fury. Can't recall who said that......

Anteater's picture

'Now is not the time to discuss it.'

SumTingWongJr's picture

Yeah, time to buy a condo real cheap in about 3 weeks.

Bigly's picture

My dentist retired to Naples last year.


JoeTurner's picture

Broken window theory says these storms will be awesome for the economy !

Fake Trump's picture

America can't afford to go to war with Kim after the storm. No war is good news. But a hungry dog is always an angry dog. This is bad news.  

38BWD22's picture



Trump would be one of the greatest if he took us out of overseas wars and other entanglements.

No more wars.

Cut taxes.

Rebuild our infrastructure.

Build the Wall.  Extreme vetting of immigrants.

End ObamaCare.

*   *   *

Then put him on Mt. Rushmore (take that libs)!

Tiwin's picture

>They must have pedophile island and lolita express photos of Trump Or he is a complete and utter liar


> Trump will deliver on all of his campaign promises

FoggyWorld's picture

IF they had photos like that believe me they would have surfaced before he was elected.

garcam123's picture

He's probably sucked a dick or two and they've shown him the pics......planned, I think. It's how they work. And we ALL know that he ain't hittin any of that FLOTUS!

Whoever is is hittin home-runs! but it's still just a......., well you know!

It too bad, these fucks might destroy the planet TOMORROW.

Americans should revolt TOMORROW and put a stop to this shit.  Arrest the Arms Manufacturers, dis-arm the police.


I don't give a fuck, I'm an old guy waitin to fuckin die anytime, sick of livin in this shit world these criminal motherfuckers have developed for us.


Tiwin's picture

Naah , he was an 'acceptable' candidate.

Smells more like controlled opposition to me.

waspwench's picture

"They" don't need to have anything on anyone "They" can still threaten Trump and members of  his family, however, given how hard "They" have looked for, and failed to find, something with which to discredit Trump one can only assume that he is the cleanest President we have ever had.

Whether Trump will be able to deliver on his campaign promises, sadly, does not depend solely on him.   He is being blocked and obstructed at every turn not only by extreme left wing judges and disgruntled Dem. politicians and governors, but also by members of the republican party, who came to power on his coattails, but who refuse to support him or to do the things they were elected to do.

It is becoming obvious that change can no longer be effected peacefully at the ballot box and that leaves only very unpleasant options.

Fake Trump's picture

Where is the money coming from? America debt is now over 20 trillions. You just can't continue printing them. What will happen if China stop  buying those toilet paper. Snowflakes may disagree with me. This is OK. Let's have foresight. 

38BWD22's picture



Stopping the wars saves over $500 bn / yr.  Pulling out of many of our overseas bases saves a little more money.

Print the rest.  

China has worse problems than the USA.

Albertarocks's picture

That theory is broken too.  The USA literally cannot afford to rebuild Texas and Florida back to what they were a month ago, let alone afford the wars they want to start in order to deflect attention away from the fact that *everything* is broken now, thanks to the bankers who set us all up for what's coming.  Did I say "what's coming"?  Hell... it's in progress.

Pure Evil's picture

They couldn't afford WW2 at the time, but that didn't stop them then and it won't stop them now.

Albertarocks's picture

Probably not.  That's so sad too, because another needless major war will just quicken the complete and utter destruction of the USD and therefore the USA.  American 'people' do not deserve the fate their government is steering them toward.

Bigly's picture

Most do not except the ones who seem to be cheering destruction- they certainly do