Coastal Calamity Coming Your Way, Climate Agency Warns

High tide flooding projections for 2019 (Courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

(CN) — Unprecedented flooding in U.S. coastal communities is expected to break all flood records for years and even decades to come, warns the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a report released Wednesday.

The NOAA looked at 98 tidal gauges along the coast for the study, and identified more than 40 locations along the East and West coasts where annual flooding is increasing rapidly due to relative sea level rise. Though other locations show an increase as well, the report says these occurred at a more steady pace.

The Northeast alone set records with 10 days of the so-called sunny day flooding last year. Nationwide there were five days of flooding, tying the 2015 record.

Researchers with the NOAA said Wednesday they expect the frequency of high-tide flooding to more than double in 2019 from the year 2000 nationally, with regions such as the Southeast expected to face an increase by as much as 190 percent.

By 2050, according to the report, the country is expected to see between 25 and 75 days of flooding.

NOAA oceanographer William Sweet, who served as lead author of the study, said these communities can prepare for flooding now.

“Once communities realize they are susceptible to high-tide flooding, they need to begin to address the impacts, which can become chronic rather quickly,” Sweet said in a statement.

In Boston, city officials have come up with a plan that includes building waterfront parks to block water from flooding the city, as well as elevating roads along the city’s 47-mile shoreline. Although Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has not identified the total cost for the project, he has called for funding help from the city’s private sector while city officials have applied for a $10 million grant from FEMA.

Pointing to rising sea levels, the study notes that hurricanes are no longer the major cause of these floods. The report also blames El Niño conditions for the rise. 

The floods have impacted storm systems, tourism and farmlands in Delaware and Maryland. Director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service Nicole LeBoeuf hopes the report will aid the communities in planning for floods. 

“U.S. coastal communities are faced with mounting challenges as sea levels rise,” said LeBoeuf in a statement. “NOAA’s tide gauge observations not only ensure safe maritime navigation but are now providing critical information about changes in coastal flood risk to help communities prepare for and plan for a more resilient future.”

%d bloggers like this: