The Global Peak Storm Surge Map provides the location and height of more than 560 storm surges since 1880. More than 300 events occurred in the United States, while more than 260 events are international (non-U.S.) storm surges. Here is a list of the number of international surges in each region:

Region Number of Storms
Australia, New Zealand, Oceania 95
East Asia 68
Northern Indian Ocean 47
Southern Indian Ocean (Madagascar) 1
Western North Atlantic 314
Western North Atlantic (Non-US) 36
Eastern North Pacific (Hawaii, Mexico) 2

Tropical Surge

Non-Tropical Surge

The Gulf of Mexico Peak Surge Database provides the peak height and location of storm surges since 1880. The original dataset compiled data from 62 separate sources to identify 195 surge events at least 4 feet (1.22 meters) high. We published the methodology and results of this work in the International Journal of Climatology (see reference below).

We continue to update this dataset as better data become available. We have recently added 55 new events, 51 of which are less than four feet high, and we’ve removed 10 events because of marginal data quality. We’ve also adjusted the height and location of other events, and separated out storm surge and storm tide. The latest version of this dataset is freely available on this website.

For citing this dataset, one can use the following reference: Needham, H.F., and B.D. Keim, 2012: A Storm Surge Database for the U.S. Gulf Coast. International Journal of Climatology, 32,14,2108-2123. DOI: 10.1002/joc.2425.

Although SURGEDAT started off as a U.S. Gulf Coast database, we’ve now expanded to the East Coast. We have peak surge data for more than 75 surge events and historic surge envelopes for more than 40 storms. These envelopes are supported by more than 2,220 high-water observations. We hope to complete our East Coast dataset by early 2013. The photo and map above depict surge inundation for the Great Long Island/ New England Hurricane of 1938.

Historic Surge Envelopes

How high was Hurricane Ike’s surge in a rural location of the Louisiana Coast? Historic Surge Envelopes are able to answer that question. This method uses historic surge observations to draw a spline-interpolated high-water envelope along an entire coastal region. This approach enables us to estimate historic high-water levels in rural areas, or in locations with sparse data. Hurricane Ike’s envelope utilized more than 400 high-water marks (red dots) to draw a high water profile (blue line) along the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida.

Surge Inundation Maps

Surge Inundation Maps provide a snapshot of coastal and inland surge inundation. These color-coded maps plot the maximum storm surge or storm tide height along entire coastal areas. The maps also provide information about the hurricane that produced the surge, such as hourly position and intensity data. Surge Inundation Maps are available for the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts.

Return Frequency Analysis

The experimental Return Frequency Analysis Tool estimates the return period of storm surge heights in specific locations. This tool overlays historic surge envelopes, then runs stats on all surge heights within a selected distance of a specific location. This methodology enables us to estimate the 100-year storm surge return period for areas within 10 miles of Manhattan, New York, or the 50-year surge level for locations within 25 miles of Miami Beach, Florida.
The image above depicts the graphics provided by this tool. In this case, a user wants a return frequency analysis for locations within 25 miles of Galveston, Texas. A map draws a red circle with a 25-mile radius, centered on Galveston. A table is then populated with surge heights from 49 unique events for which SURGEDAT has data within this red circle. A bar graph and a log-scale line graph on the top right show return frequency estimates of surge heights for 10, 25, 50 and 100 years.
This tool is still experimental and not yet publicly available. However, we feel such analysis is crucial for better understanding coastal vulnerability to storm surge in specific locations. If such analysis interests you, please contact us. Although we’re still developing this tool, we are interested in research collaboration.