Florida researchers say they have made a major breakthrough on forecasting the deadliest part of a hurricane - the storm surge.
They say a study they conducted after Hurricane Dennis hit the Florida Panhandle last year will lead to more accurate storm surge forecasts along the Gulf of Mexico.
When Hurricane Dennis made landfall near Pensacola last year it caused a storm surge that flooded coastal areas nearly a couple of hundred miles away.
Researchers at Florida State University now say the surge was caused by, what they're calling, a “trapped wave” along Florida's Gulf coast.
After months of study, FSU scientists discovered the trapped wave was a bulge of high water hundreds of miles long. It traveled north along the coast and piled up on the shore along Apalachee Bay.
O'Brien says his team's research has prompted the National Hurricane Center to change the way it forecasts storm surge.