A first storm surge hit coastal Cameron and Vermilion parishes when Rita's eye wall slammed ashore around 3 a.m. Sept. 24, Erickson said. It takes a while, sometimes hours, for the water to move inland, hence the time lag of several hours between the first surge and the second, which hit after daybreak. Intensifying the problem was that lower Vermilion Parish experienced tropical storm force winds from the south through the day Sept. 24.Again, after we thought it was all clear, the waters began to rise. But this time the metrorologists arre stumped.
"We were warning people about this in Iberia and Vermilion parishes," Erickson said. "We definitely could have had some people killed because they went out before the all-clear was in effect."
The phenomenon of a secondary surge is not common, Erickson said. Even the director of the National Hurricane Center seemed unfamiliar with it, so it could be unique to this area, he said.
"We're researching it now to see if it can happen anywhere or if it's a local effect," Erickson said. "We may have discovered something that overall we weren't aware of."