Storm surge, ocean salt, and the environmental impacts


(WETM) – With two Tropical Cyclones in the Gulf of Mexico forecast to impact the coast of Louisiana and Texas this week, storm surge is always a concern with events like this. Especially due to the low-lying like the coast of those states consist of.

Storm surge is defined as an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. The surge is created by the cyclonic wind pushing ocean water inland and can exceed 20 feet tall at times. A storm surge is also one of the most deadly aspects of tropical storms as that much water can be extremely dangerous for anyone caught in it.

Storm surge diagram courtesy of NOAA.

Water moving this quickly and in this quantity will easily destroy anything in its path.

Structure destroyed by storm surge.

Something that many people don’t realize is a significant impact from storm surge is the environmental impact that it has on the local area. Salt water is very toxic to fresh water dependent creatures, we should know, we are fresh water dependent.

Storm surge will kill crop and wildlife where it moves in and causes animals to flee inland, especially fresh water amphibious creatures. An example of a particularly scary creature that will flee inland is the alligator. There have been multiple accounts of alligators turning up farther inland than they usually are because they are trying to outrun the salt water in a storm surge.

When the water eventually subsides or evaporates, a lot of salt residual will stay behind, continually hurting wildlife in the area.

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