Flooding at high tide will only get worse, says NOAA


Coastal communities across the United States saw an uptick in flooding from high tides last year — and that’s unlikely to get better, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In a report released Wednesday, the agency said last year tied the 2015 record for a national median of five days of high-tide flooding. Twelve locations broke flood records, including Washington, Annapolis and Baltimore.

The agency cited El Niño and rising sea levels as reasons why “it no longer takes a strong storm or hurricane to cause flooding in many coastal areas” and warned that people should be careful. expect even more in the future.

Effects of high tide flooding include disrupted traffic along East Coast roads, degraded functionality of septic systems in southern Florida and salty farmland on the coast of Delaware and Maryland, NOAA said. .

NOAA has identified more than 40 locations where high tide flooding trends show “significant acceleration” along the west and east coasts. The data suggests that coastal impacts will soon become “chronic rather than sporadic”.

In 2019, the Northeast Atlantic is expected to experience a median of eight days of flooding, an increase of 140% since 2000. Flooding in the Southeast is expected to increase by 190% since 2000 to a median of five days , and the eastern Gulf West Coast is expected to rise 130% to a median of six days.

“Once communities realize they are susceptible to flooding at high tide, they need to start coping with the impacts, which can become chronic quite quickly,” said William Sweet, an oceanographer at the Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and NOAA Services and lead author of the report. said in a statement.

“Communities don’t know what to expect next year and the decades to come, which makes planning difficult. Our high tide projections can play a vital role in helping them plan mitigation measures and other remedies. »

The report projects that, by 2050, the United States will experience 25 to 75 days of high tide flooding.

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