When ocean water is forced towards the shore from intense hurricane winds, it is called storm surge.
Results can be catastrophic depending on the size, strength, and path of the hurricane.
The coastline size and shape is also a huge factor when determining risks for storm surge flooding.
In the past 50 years, there have been around 2,500 hurricane directly-caused deaths in the U.S. Out of those deaths, 90% were due to storm water, approximately half of which were caused by storm surge.
According to the 2019 Storm Surge Report, Florida is the most vulnerable to storm surge with 2.9 million homes at risk (which is more than double the next highest vulnerable state: Louisiana with 847,000 homes at risk).
Fort Myers is the sixth most vulnerable city for storm surge risks in the entire U.S.
On average, a major hurricane makes landfall somewhere along the Gulf Coast region every 2 years.
Hurricane Irma was the most powerful Atlantic hurricane to ever be recorded. The storm was expected to affect the entire state of Florida, with catastrophic storm surge risks to areas along the coasts. Meteorologists had difficulty determining whether Irma would bash the east coast or west coast. Once Irma shifted west, areas along the gulf coast braced for impact and were most vulnerable to high levels of storm surge.
Hurricane Irma was projected to bring 10-15 feet of storm surge to SouthWest Florida. Naples was a region of great concern for rapidly rising surge on the back side of Irma's eye wall. The reason why the storm surge was not as damaging as predicted is due to the storm's last minute shift to the east. Irma's powerful eastern wall unexpectedly turned inland, right before arriving in Naples. This slight movement spared SWFL greatly.