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Storm Surge: What Exactly is It? [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]

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By Janice Somosot | November 14, 2013 12:38 PM EST

Storm surge is a popular term in the Philippines now mainly because of the devastating aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan which wreaked havoc in its path particularly in the Leyte province and the surrounding areas. But, what exactly is it? Most Filipinos haven't even heard of that term and don't know what it actually means because it is not used often in weather reports. Filipinos are more familiar with other terms such as tsunami, hurricanes, tornadoes, storm signals and floods.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) of the Australian Government, a storm surge is an abnormal rise above the normal water level along a shore caused by a storm.

A storm surge is typically caused by low pressure, high winds and high waves associated with tropical cyclones such as a typhoon, hurricane, tropical storm, tropical depression and cyclonic storm as it makes landfall.

Apparently, the storm surge brought about by the heavy winds in the coastal areas of Leyte and the surrounding areas was underestimated by those who live there. They were reportedly warned about it and were asked to evacuate the area immediately, but even those who evacuated were still affected by this storm surge.

The Federal government in Manila "knew it was going to be bad but didn't expect this," said The Philippine Star political columnist Alex Magno in a CNBC report.

"We're used to Level Four typhoons but this was different because of the storm surge," said Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala in a report by CNBC.

 "It was like a tsunami," Zagala added.

Check out a video of the Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) Storm Surge below:

CREDIT: YouTube/Jules Davis

Its effects are a bit similar to a tsunami, but the difference between a tsunami and a storm surge is that a tsunami is caused by an earthquake, a volcanic eruption or asteroid impacts, while a storm surge happens because of a storm, as the name suggests. It literally means a surge (or flow, heave, outpouring, gush, upwelling, swell, rush, flood) of waves brought about by a storm.

To be safe from a storm surge, evacuate to a much higher area that is very far from nearby bodies of water. Because its effects are similar to a tsunami, take the necessary precautions and preparations for situations like that.

CREDIT: YouTube/The Weather Channel

The storm has passed and the Filipinos left behind have survived and made it through the rain. However, even if Typhoon Haiyan has left the country, its effects are still felt up to now and probably in the days to come as the nation slowly rises up from being knocked down by this super strong typhoon.

To learn more about storm surge and what exactly is it, click here  and here.

  • Check out Super Typhoon Haiyan Related News:

Super Typhoon Haiyan Update: More Ways to Reach Out and Help Filipinos

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