NewsAugust 27, 2012

Explore How Isaac Storm Surge Could Flood Tampa, RNC

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By Climate Central

Click image for interactive

Tropical Storm Isaac is forecast to strengthen into a hurricane over the next few days, just in time for the Republican National Convention, which begins Monday in Tampa.

While it’s still too early to predict if it will directly hit Tampa, even a mere sideswipe of the storm could cause huge problems for people in the Tampa Bay area, conventioneers, included. That’s because Tampa is especially vulnerable to storm surge, the wall of water hurricanes and tropical storms push ahead of them.

This interactive, based on research done by Climate Central, shows how much of the Tampa Bay area lies below storm surges of different heights as measured in feet above high tide (use the slider to select a number and the location of the Republican Convention is marked on the map). The 100-year flood level is 6.5 feet above the high-tide line, which would cause major flooding.

As a comparison, the devastating surge caused by an unnamed hurricane in 1921 — the last direct hit on the bay — reached 10.5 feet. In 1921, however, sea level was, on average, about 8 inches lower than it is today. That means that the same storm striking today would make the surge that much higher.

The risk for Tampa and other coastal cities all over the nation – and all over the world—will keep growing in the future, as climate change continues to drive up sea level.