The Truth about Storm Surge Cause

Andreas Klippe Comments May 18, 2021

On November 8, 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) hit the Philippines. Tacloban, Leyte, and the surrounding shore of San Pedro Bay suffered the most damages. Because of strong winds brought by Yolanda, a 5–7 meter-high storm surge took place. Yolanda, as the storm surge cause, killed more than 6,000 people. 

The people were caught off-guard. Some of them didn’t even know what a storm surge was.  

So what is a storm surge?


A storm surge is an unusual and sudden rise in sea level during tropical cyclones or storms. It is called a storm surge because the surge or sea-level rise is caused by storms’ strong winds.

Storms can produce powerful winds and cause sea waters to rise. Wherever the winds are the strongest, that is where the level of water rises. Winds push the seawater in the direction they are blowing.

As storms’ winds push the water, the seawater may go in different directions. It may also go onto the shore — bringing widespread floods, destroying and washing away everything or everyone that is on its path. 

That is how dangerous storm surge can be for coastal areas. Don’t you agree? 

Climate Change as an Indirect Storm Surge Cause

Climate change has also been linked with tropical storms and floods.

Climate change worsens storm surges, storm surge cause
Climate change worsens storm surges

As our climate warms, we experience stronger winds and storm surges. Eventually, these surges bring flooding!

The seawater may go in different directions and may also go onto the shore — bringing widespread floods, destroying and washing away everything or everyone that is on its path.

In warmer climates, storms can bring more rain. As temperatures rise, evaporation and the heat transferred from the oceans to the air intensify. Also, as storms travel over warm oceans, they draw more water vapor and heat.

As a result, storms become more powerful, bringing heavier rainfall and stronger winds.

Climate change may not be a direct cause of storm surges, but it still contributes to its severity. 

Never Again should it Happen 

Going back to what happened to Tacloban, Leyte, Super Typhoon Yolanda (and the storm surge) destroyed 90% of the province. The damage by the typhoon and the surge to Leyte is heartbreaking. Yolanda killed 6,000 men, women, and children. It destroyed houses and buildings. 

The aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan), storm surge cause
The aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan)

Leyte looked like it was a ghost town. Inside the evacuation centers, the survivors were cramped and cold, and hungry. They slept on cold cement while waiting for food distribution. People were thirsty. Children were crying. Adults still had the clothes they wore for the past three days. 

While I can go on telling the devastating story of Tacloban, I want to conclude by presenting a solution the local government units and national government can avail.

Preparation for Coastal Flooding

The solution for coastal flooding that I’m talking about is RS Glass-Paneled Flood Barriers. Why this?

RS Glass Paneled Flood Barriers for Coastal Protection, Storm Surge Cause
RS Glass Paneled Flood Barriers for Coastal Protection
  1. They are permanent. — No removable parts. No need to demount. No need for pre-flood preparation. 
  2. They can be a post-construction add-on. — There is no need to destroy the existing floodwall because RS Glass Flood Barriers can be mounted, making them high enough to block a spiking flood level.
  3. They preserve the scenic view. — their window-type design does not disturb the panorama.
  4. They are seawater resistant. — You know what that means. 
  5. They last for 50 years and more!

The sea and the shore are one of the best gifts of nature. More than the recreational activities it can give us, the sea gives us food. 

But it too can destroy us. 

Let the memory of Yolanda be a thing in the past. Let not another storm surge destroy thousands of lives. 

To watch how RS Glass-Paneled Flood Barriers can preserve scenic views while giving protection, click the “WATCH THE VIDEO” button below.

To converse with a Flood Expert, click the “BOOK A MEETING” button below. 

Andreas Klippe

About the author

Andreas Klippe is founder of the Asian Center for Flood Control located in Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines.

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