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The numbers bandied about have been 3.6 m (12 feet) and even 4.6 m (15 feet), but something told me that was unlikely. As a guy who could "almost" slam dunk a basketball, the idea of a 3 m (10 feet) surge (height of a basketball goal) is formidable. 4-5 m (12-15 feet) is terrifying.

However, I have not found any statements on how high the storm surged ocean-wise. I've seen plenty of homes wiped off of their foundations from wind, but if you look carefully homes right next to them are still quite intact. My guess is the max "surge" was less than 1 m (<2 feet). Does anyone know this or where to find it?

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    $\begingroup$ Looking for reported numbers. Surge was already at 2ft Friday Morning well ahead of landfall. The 8+ foot estimates we're for a small section of coast closest to the eye. Not sure how high the seawall in Port lavaca is, but surge was lapping above it Friday evening 4 hours ahead of landfall. $\endgroup$ – casey Aug 27 '17 at 21:13
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    $\begingroup$ weather.gov/crp/tides high levels (preliminary) for buouys at Port Aransas and Port Lavaca were around 6 and 7.5 ft respectively. Includes tide, so isn't directly the surge value. $\endgroup$ – casey Aug 27 '17 at 21:23
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    $\begingroup$ Tidal range is low on the Texas Gulf Coast - only a foot or so. The forecast was around 9-10ft - and of course more on the east side of Rockport (landfall) than the south-west (where some points recorded negative surge). $\endgroup$ – winwaed Aug 28 '17 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ u-surge.net has some info $\endgroup$ – Jan Doggen Sep 20 '17 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ Please note that metric/SI units are required on this site. You can keep the old-fashioned units, but metric conversions should also be included. earthscience.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/318/… $\endgroup$ – arkaia Sep 20 '17 at 19:31
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My house elevation is 9.1 feet above sea level, according to all "expert" measurements. That includes the city, county, state, Feds, and all insurers. It seems about right to me. But then again, I cannot dunk.

I live a half mile or so from the beach and bay of mustang island.

Anyhoo, the static water level In my hood was 2-3 feet and a little less inside my first floor. That puts it at around 10-12 feet.

It's a real thing.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is only one data point; it does not answer the more general Does anyone know this or where to find it? $\endgroup$ – Jan Doggen Sep 20 '17 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, but I'm still accepting the answer as it's at least a very real data point. u-surge.net does have some interesting info: u-surge.net/hurricane-harvey.html $\endgroup$ – Oliver Williams Sep 20 '17 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ This is likely not storm surge, but rather a combination of flooding and surge $\endgroup$ – arkaia Sep 20 '17 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Individual experience is certainly useful, though a compilation does tell us more. $\endgroup$ – JeopardyTempest Sep 20 '17 at 17:22
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For a general view of the surge in the region, the maps in u-surge give a pretty good idea of numbers and more affected regions.

The USGS provides a comprehensive view of High Water Marks (HWM) in the entire region. If you are looking for observations, then the HWM database gives you the best spatial coverage. While HWM do not provide surge information per se as it includes multiple processes (like ocean surge from the storm, waves and wave run-up, and flooding from rivers and precipitation), it gives an idea of the extreme values of water level in many locations. It also shows the large spatial variability of the effects of the storm. There are also tide gauge and rapid response stations in the area as part of the USGS database that provides more information of the temporal evolution of water levels.

Part of the problem is that storm surge is only the result of two processes: 1) wind piling water against the coast and 2) low atmospheric pressure that causes ocean level to go up. Additionally, you have many other processes affecting water levels during a storm or hurricane. The tides are still there as always and that adds complications because if the storm surge peak occurs during high tide, then the impacts are much worse. Tides in the Gulf of Mexico are not that high, but they can be a much larger factors in some other areas. The combination of storm surge and astronomical tides is often label "storm tide", which is a very poor name choice and leads to much confusion, as clearly the storm does not cause a tide. Another impact is that associated with the high winds, you have large wave heights. As these high waves approach the coast, they cause higher water levels as a result of wave run-up and wave setup. The magnitude of these wave effects can be pretty large in some locations especially in ocean-facing locations. The last main impact on water level is precipitation and the resulting increase river discharge. Clearly, Harvey had a catastrophic amount of precipitation and its impacts were much larger than the purely oceanic-driven storm surge in this storm.

Many agencies are working on developing a measure of water level that includes all these processes. For instance a good example is the USGS effort to develop Total Water Level measurements and forecast.

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