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ORLANDO, Florida - The National Hurricane Center hopes new color-coded maps they're trying out this year will simplify two important points about storm surge for coastal residents: how far from the beach the water will spread and how high that water will rise.

Storm surge is the abnormal rise of sea water. It's one of the deadliest and most damaging hazards during a hurricane, but it's hard to predict and hard to explain.

Hurricane Center director Rick Knabb says the new potential storm-surge-flooding graphics should clarify why some residents are ordered to evacuate before a storm.

Knabb is attending the National Hurricane Conference this week in Orlando. Giving storm surge its own graphics and warnings is part of an ongoing effort to improve the way forecasters talk to people about storm hazards.

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