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Where do surges occur?

Storm surges can occur on almost any low lying coastline; practically any populated coast has some risk of a storm surge. However particularly high risk areas include

  • The hurricane areas of the US and Carribean, especially the Gulf of Mexico with its low-lying coastline. Hurricane Katrina,, for which the economic impact has been estimated as over $80 billion, is the most famous example.
  • The North Indian Ocean, where energetic typhoons frequently make landfall into low lying, densely populated regions. The numbers of lives lost in this region can be immense, of order several hundred thousand, though in recent years improved warning systems have caused a dramatic reduction in surge related deaths.
  • The southern North Sea shoreline, where many highly populated areas lie close to the coast just above, or even below, the mean sea level. The area has a large number of winter storms, leading to surges of over 50 cm around 10 times per year. The best known surge event in this region was the storm of January 1953, which killed and displaced thousands across the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK.
  • The Yellow and South China seas.
  • The Thai and Malaysian coastlines.
  • The Somali coastline.

However this should not be considered a definitive list. For example, the map below (from preventionweb) shows the areas within Europe considered to be at high risk of storm surges.

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