Storm Surge Forecast Outcome Reflections from Hurricane Harvey (credit: Meteorologist Eric Blake)
DISCUSSION: Even after now being a little over a year past the one-year anniversary of the historic landfall of Hurricane Harvey into the greater southeast Texas region, there are still many things people and meteorologists are learning even as time continues to move on. While it cannot be argued that Hurricane Harvey was not another horrific natural disaster as part of many which occurred through 2017 across the United States, there still were some brighter aspects of the forecast process for this record-breaking storm. First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge the fact that even after a year since Hurricane Harvey devastated many parts of southeast Texas, there are still some positive outcomes to take away from this historic rainfall-producing Gulf of Mexico-born hurricane. In addition, as shown above in the storm surge inundation graphic which was originally generated back in late January 2018 by NWS National Hurricane Center Meteorologist Eric Blake, you can clearly see where the worst storm surge impacts ultimately occurred in association with Hurricane Harvey.
An important piece worth noting (which was brought to attention later on the same day of the original tweeted graphic within the same Twitter conversation which this particular storm surge graphic was posted within), is that it was discovered that Category 4 Hurricane Charley (2004) also did not have any storm surge-related deaths tied to its landfall on the west coast of Florida in and around the city of Punta Gorda, Florida. Nevertheless, this is a GREAT accomplishment on the part of both local National Weather Service (NWS) weather forecast offices (WFO) along with the NWS National Hurricane Center (NHC) forecast office to generate and well-advertise such effective and early-on advanced warning messages to the general public. This increased communication efficiency on the part of both local NWS WFOs, the NWS NHC, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and others likely helped to spread out the seriousness of the impending threat heading their way in the form of Hurricane Harvey.
This net result goes to show that taking action (which many people did in advance of Hurricane Harvey regardless of whether it meant stocking up, boarding up, or evacuating) nearly always has a high degree of correlation with there being a greater likelihood for survival. So, just another example for how doing even the little things can make a BIG difference out ahead of an incoming tropical cyclone threat. Also, always be sure to have a plan in place well in advance of any storm that may threaten your region during this or any future tropical cyclone season, since the majority of problems which the average people run into involves rushed last-minute preparations which can be costly both with respect to personal finances and the net loss of life.
Thus, the moral of the story from this discussion and the minimal loss of life directly due to storm surge-related impacts is to always heed the advice and messages being directed to you by NWS and/or NWS NHC forecasters since it may possibly save your life one day.
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© 2018 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz