When a major storm threat like Hurricane Florence arrives, the daily deluge of warnings, updates and news can make the real danger seem a little distant — until it’s too late.
But a Weather Channel report from meteorologist Erika Navarro drove the point home in a visceral way Thursday by using an animated graphic to show just how dangerous high floodwaters can be.
The video, posted Thursday afternoon, explored a “reasonable worst-case scenario” for coastal areas facing a storm surge of up to 6 feet or even 9 feet or more in some areas, according to the broadcast.
Navarro does away with maps and radars and instead the camera shows her standing outside in the storm on a concrete platform. As she talks, virtual floodwaters rise around her. They engulf her legs at 3 feet, enough to knock her down, she says.
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A car drifts over her right shoulder as the waters rise to 6 feet.
“This is over my head. I wouldn’t be able to stand here, even withstand the force of the water coming in. There might even be dangers like chemicals and exposed power lines lurking in the water,” she says.
But that’s not all. Navarro shows the level rising even higher, to a “life-threatening” 9-foot-high wall of surging water. Fish and debris meander through the Biblical floodwaters behind her.
For perspective, on Thursday night the National Hurricane Center predicted storm surges of as high as 11 feet in some areas.
“If you find yourself here, please get out,” Navarro says. “If you’re told to go, you need to go.”
“The business that we’re in is safety,” said Michael Potts, The Weather Channel’s vice president of design, according to The Verge. “The weather is a visceral, physical thing, and we’re trying to recreate that in the most realistic way possible.”
The clip was shared widely on Twitter, with many people saying the segment was innovative, sobering and effective.
“Damn they got the weather channel in IMAX now,” wrote one on Twitter.
“If this novel (but terrifying) visualisation from The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) didn’t convince you to evacuate your home on the Carolina coast, then nothing would,” wrote another person on Twitter.
“The Weather Channel is no joke,” read another Twitter post.
The graphic was created in The Weather Channel’s studio in Atlanta, where designers worked quickly to develop it so they could push the information out to those who needed it, Potts said, according to Wired.
“We can control any number of scenarios, from how high the water needs to be, the wave height, the speed of the waves on top, and then the rain density and the clouds, how dark and overcast it’s going to be,” Potts said, according to the site. “The entire goal is to try to paint and recreate a reality that’s in the future. This is what to expect.”