Paul Johnson points to the flood water line on his truck in the San Marco neighborhood in Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Johnson tried to drive his prized posession truck out of the flood but it sputtered and died and still wouldn't turn on hours later. The nature of Irma’s eye, its wide girth and especially its path made its storm surge seem somewhat strange with far off Jacksonville getting hit hard while parts of western Florida got off lighter than expected. (AP Photo/Claire Garafolo)
Police officers plow through floodwater on Hendricks Avenue in San Marco as Hurricane Irma passes by Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP)
Charlotte Glaze gives Donna Lamb a teary hug as she floats out some of her belongings in floodwaters from the Ortega River in Jacksonville, Fla., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, after Hurricane Irma passed through the area. "This neighborhood has not flooded in at least 51 years," Lamb said. (Dede Smith/The Florida Times-Union via AP)
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Scientists say Hurricane Irma’s girth, path and some quirks of geography put some twists on its storm surge.
Irma’s eye didn’t get within 80 miles of Jacksonville, and it had weakened to a tropical storm during its journey up the Florida peninsula. But the highest water levels were not in southwest Florida, where Irma made its second U.S. landfall after the Florida Keys.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says Jacksonville and Savannah, Georgia, had the highest observed water levels. And farther up Florida’s west coast, there was a rare reverse storm surge, draining water from the shore and bays before it came back with a vengeance.
It was the northeast corner of Irma — with its most potent winds, rain and surge — that delivered the most watery punch.