Storm Surge

Storm surge is the water that is pushed onto land as a hurricane makes landfall.

• It can range from a few feet to over 30 feet.
• It will impact coastal areas first, then move further inland.
• Surge is life-threatening.
• It is fast-moving and fast-rising.
• Can wash away buildings and roadways.

Evacuations are based on storm surge. Know if you are at risk from storm surge by looking up your evacuation zone.

Know your zone

There are several ways to learn your evacuation zone:

  • Online at Know Your Zone
  • Ready Pinellas mobile app (Android, iOS)
  • (727) 453-3150 (for Pinellas County landline phones only)
  • Utility bill (Pinellas County customers)

Mobile homes

Residents of mobile homes, manufactured homes and recreational vehicles must always evacuate no matter what area of Pinellas County they live in. Mobile homes cannot withstand strong winds.

Special needs

Residents who are dependent on electricity must always evacuate due to winds for all category hurricanes. See more information on special needs.

Picture the threat

This graphic shows how storm surge affects the different evacuation zones, and in different scenarios. If the weather forecast says surge height could be 5 to 7 feet, areas in Evacuation Zone A can expect roads flooded, fast-moving storm surge entering homes, and water above electrical outlets. If surge is predicted to be 12 to 15 feet, storm surge would be up to house rooflines in Evacuation Zones A and B, homes can be moved from their foundations, and you are not likely to survive this. If surge is predicted to be 26 feet or higher, homes in Zones A and B may be swept off their foundations, catastrophic damage will occur along the coast, and extensive flooding in all zones will occur, including inside homes, cars, and on roads. You are not likely to survive this. The graphic shows that the impact of the storm surge decreases as the level of the land increases. Evacuation Zone A would be the first to be impacted because it is the lowest and along the coastline. As a hurricane strengthens, and the height of the predicted surge increases, more of the land in Pinellas County will see impacts from surge. A Category 5 hurricane would cause storm surge that could put Zone A under 26 feet of water, Zones B and C under 12 to 15 feet of water, Zones D and E with 2 to 4 feet of water. This does not include the impacts from wind. Wind will affect the entire county. Mobile home residents and residents who are dependent on electricity must always evacuate due to winds for all category hurricanes.
Click image to enlarge

Storm surge is not just a coastal hazard. This graphic shows examples of storm surge scenarios to illustrate how far inland storm surge can be pushed and the damages it can cause. Storm surge will impact coastal waters first and continue to push inland. For Hurricane Ian, storm surge reached up to 15 feet at the coast on Fort Myers Beach, and was pushed 15 miles inland. Along rivers and waterways, storm surge was pushed up to 24 miles inland, with a depth up to eight feet. Evacuation orders are issued to move people out of harm’s way.

Run from the water. Hide from the wind.