4.2 The largest coastal surge in the world?

Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable, having a low topography so that the coast is virtually at sea level, shallow continental shelf, high tidal range and a high population density. In 1970 >220,000 people died with a recorded surge of >9m (Pugh, 1987; Murty and Flather, 1994); 11,000 died in May, 1985 and circa 200,000 died in 1991 (Alexander, 1993). The Saxby gale of 1869 caused huge damage along the Bay of Fundy, Canada with a surge >2m The Galveston, USA, hurricane in 1900, raised water levels by >5m killing around 6,000 people; in 1938 a hurricane with a 2m surge swept across Long Island and southern New England killing >700 people (Ludlam, 1988); the Ash Wednesday storm of 1962 affected the entire eastern seaboard of the USA and lasted over five tidal cycles. In 1992, the New York metro was flooded by a >2m surge, resulting in human loss of life; and property damage; the Halloween storm’ of 1991, basis of the film, ‘The Perfect Storm’, Hugo in 1989 in South Carolina, Andrew in 1992 in the Florida Keys and Katrina for New Orleans all give evidence of surges that cost lives and property.

Ludlam, D.M. 1988. The great hurricane of 1938, Weatherwise, 41, 214-216.
Murty, T.S., and Flather, R.A., 1994.Impact of storm surges in the Bay of Bengal, In Finkl, C.W. Jr. (ed.) Coastal hazards: Perception, susceptibility and Mitigation. J Coastal Research, SI 12, 149-161.
Pugh, D.T. 1987. Tides, surges and mean sea level. J Wiley and Sons, Chichester.