An approach to utilizing adaptive mesh refinement algorithms for storm surge modeling is proposed. Currently numerical models exist that can resolve the details of coastal regions but are often too costly to be run in an ensemble forecasting framework without significant computing resources. The application of adaptive mesh refinement algorithms substantially lowers the computational cost of a storm surge model run while retaining much of the desired coastal resolution. The approach presented is implemented in the GeoClaw framework and compared to ADCIRC for Hurricane Ike along with observed tide gauge data and the computational cost of each model run. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.