09/17/2012 12:23 pm ET

Hurricane Isaac Spurs Design Of Storm Surge Warnings

When they strike land, hurricanes bring a slew of threats ashore, from strong winds to flooding rains. The deadliest weapon in a hurricane’s arsenal is its storm surge, the wall of ocean water that the storm’s winds and very low air pressure push ashore. It was the storm surge from Hurricane Katrina, not strong winds, which overwhelmed inadequate levees in New Orleans in 2005, killing about 1,800 people. History is full of examples of catastrophic storm surge events, such as Hurricane Camille in 1969, which killed 259 people and flattened the Mississippi coastline under a wall of water nearly 30 feet high.

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