The 2015 Atlantic Hurricane Season starts June 1st. This year, Gulf and Atlantic coast residents that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation by storm surge from a tropical cyclone will receive a new set of alerts from the National Hurricane Center.

Currently, the National Hurricane Center issues tropical storm and hurricane warnings and watches. However, new this year are storm surge alerts for any location where water may rise at least 3 feet (91 centimeters) above normal. The National Hurricane Center will issue surge watches 48 hours in advance and surge warnings 36 hours before a cyclone makes landfall.

What is the reason for these new alerts about storm surge? Hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings are mostly about a storm’s wind. However, storm surge, is a wall of water that a tropical storm or hurricane can push onto a shoreline. Policyholders who filed Hurricane Katrina and Sandy claims know the ramifications of this all too well.

You can read more about the new storm surge alerts at the National Hurricane Center’s web site.

The program is an experimental phase and after the 2015 hurricane season is over, officials may make changes in the future such as to the number of feet or the manner in which the storm surge alerts are conveyed to the public. However, this does not mean the alerts should not be heeded.