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The term "storm surge" in casual (non-scientific) use is storm tide; that is, it refers to the rise of water associated with the storm, plus tide, wave run-up, and freshwater flooding.
In the current situation, the storm surge can do two things --- On the positive side it can disperse and dilute the oil and Corexit. On the very negative side, a storm surge can push the the crude oil, Corexit and water inland to places it has never reached before negatively affecting new ecosystems.
HURRICANE EARL As of 5 am EDT Thursday Hurricane Earl was located about 410 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina with top winds near 145 mph. Earl is a category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.
Some minor fluctuations in strength are possible over the next 24 hours. Earl is moving toward the north-northwest at 18 mph. It is expected to gradually turn to the north tomorrow. A hurricane warning is in effect for Bogue Inlet, NC northeastward to the NC/VA border, including the Pamlico and Abermarle Sounds.
A hurricane watch is in effect for north of the NC/VA border to Cape Henlopen, DE and from Westport to Plymouth, MA, including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. A tropical storm warning is in effect from Cape Fear to west of Bogue Inlet, NC and from the NC/VA border to Sandy Hook, NJ, including Delaware Bay south of Slaughter Beach and the Chesapeake Bay south of New Point Comfort and the coast of Long Island, NY from Fire Island Inlet northward and eastward to Port Jefferson Harbor.