IN 2012, SUPERSTORM SANDY reminded
all of us that surge can cause at least as
much damage as wind. Sandy’s surge,
which exceeded 10 feet in the hardest hit
areas, overwhelmed the infrastructure at
hundreds of marinas, floating docks off
pilings, destroying fixed docks, and car-
LESSONS FROM SANDY
rying away boats on the hard. It would be
easy to conclude that nothing could have
prevented the devastation. But boats stood
a much higher chance of surviving where
boat owners prepared for the surge, and
hauled-out boats that were damaged due
to the high water suffered significantly less
damage than those that remained in the
water and floated off with their docks.
To know what you’re up against, you
need to have a good idea of how high the
surge will be. In the past, this was mostly
guesswork, but now there is a new tool
from the National Weather Service (NWS)
that can help predict the surge based on
your location. The NWS will issue storm-
surge prediction maps at around the same
time as an initial hurricane watch or, in
some cases, a tropical storm watch. These
maps will be based on the latest forecast
track and intensity for the tropical cyclone
and take into account likely forecast errors.
They can be thought of as representing
a reasonable worst-case scenario for any
given location, which can give you advance
notice to help you take the appropriate
steps to protect your boat.
DRAIN PLUGS IN? OR OUT?
In the fall of 2012, many boats
had already been winterized when
Superstorm Sandy came calling. Most
of those boats ended up as total losses
— because the drain plugs were out. The
surge filled the boats with saltwater
and sank them on land, destroying the
An example of
what the new
will look like, in
this case for the
Gulf of Mexico.
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