A storm surge is a rise in water along the shore caused by a storm while a tidal wave refers to the wave motion of tides

Storm surge from Hurricane Ike.

Storm surge from Hurricane Ike.

Storm surge is the water that is pushed toward the shoreline by the force of winds from a hurricane or other intense storm. When combined with normal tides, the surge can create water levels 15 feet or more about the mean water level. This rise in water can cause severe flooding in coastal areas.

A tidal wave is a shallow water wave caused by the gravitational interactions between the Sun, Moon, and Earth. The term “tidal wave” is often used to refer to tsunamis; however, this reference is incorrect as tsunamis have nothing to do with tides.

For more information:

Storm Surge, National Hurricane Center
Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services