Fair-weather flood­ing

NOAA re­port: Sea­wa­ter pre­dicted to hit streets and neigh­bor­hoods

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By David Flesh­ler

Sea­wa­ter could spill into streets more of­ten in the com­ing year as the ocean con­tin­ues to rise at an ac­cel­er­at­ing rate.

The fre­quency of fair­weather flood­ing, where un­usu­ally high tides bring ocean wa­ter into streets and neigh­bor­hoods, is pro­jected to reach an av­er­age of five days in the U.S. South­east, a 190 per­cent in­crease over the year 2000, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual re­port on high-tide flood­ing re­leased Wed­nes­day by the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion. For the east­ern Gulf of Mex­ico, there are ex­pected to be three days of fair-weather flood­ing, a 100 per­cent in­crease.

“An­nual flood records are ex­pected to be bro­ken again next year and for years and decades to come,” the re­port says. “Pro­ject­ing out to 2030 and 2050 pro­vides vi­tal in­for­ma­tion for com­mu­ni­ties who are al

“An­nual flood records are ex­pected to be bro­ken again next year and for years and decades to come.” Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion, in a new re­port on high-tide flood­ing

ready tak­ing adap­ta­tion steps to ad­dress coastal flood­ing im­pacts and those who are be­gin­ning to assess fu­ture flood risk in their com­mu­ni­ties.”

Driv­ing the in­crease is the rise in sea levels, cur­rently av­er­ag­ing about an inch every eight years, com­pounded by lo­cal con­di­tions such as the grad­ual sink­ing of land known as sub­si­dence.

“It’s not a year 2100 is­sue,” said Wil­liam Sweet, a NOAA oceanog­ra­pher, in a con­fer­ence call with re­porters. “… The im­pacts are now, and we’re feel­ing them.”

The United States tied a record for sunny-day flood­ing last year, with an av­er­age of five days, with the im­pacts par­tic­u­larly pro­nounced in the north­east and mid-At­lantic. The wa­ter levels are mea­sured by 98 tide gauges around the United States.

The east coast of Florida es­caped the worst of it. Tide gauges at Vir­ginia Key out­side Mi­ami, for ex­am­ple, regis­tered no days of fair-weather flood­ing in 2018.

That may puz­zle res­i­dents of parts of Mi­ami Beach, Fort Laud­erdale and Del­ray Beach, who typ­i­cally need to walk and drive through at least a few inches of wa­ter dur­ing the worst of the fall high tides. But Sweet said the fed­eral sys­tem for reg­is­ter­ing fair­weather flood­ing set a thresh­old for sever­ity that would ex­clude some days in which res­i­dents ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing.

Florida’s Gulf coast ex­pe­ri­enced sev­eral days of fair-weather flood­ing, al­though the re­port at­trib­uted much of that to the pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Michael to­ward the Pan­han­dle. A tide gauge in St. Peters­burg, for ex­am­ple, regis­tered four flood days in 2018. The city is pro­jected to ex­pe­ri­ence one to three days in 2019.

The flood­ing dis­rupted traf­fic in parts of the east coast, and in South Florida it raised the ground­wa­ter level and de­graded sep­tic tank sys­tems, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Ten years from now, the av­er­age num­ber of high tide days is pro­jected to in­crease to seven to 15 days, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, and by 2050, they could in­crease to 25 to 75 days.

David Flesh­ler can be reached at dflesh­[email protected]­l.com or 954-356-4535

This story was pro­duced by the Florida Cli­mate Re­port­ing Net­work, a multi-news­room ini­tia­tive that in­cludes the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Or­lando Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post, the Mi­ami Her­ald, WLRN Public Me­dia and the Tampa Bay Times.

JOE CAVARETTA/SUN SENTINEL PHO­TOS

A Fort Laud­erdale public works crew clears storm drains as flood­wa­ters rise in 2017. The Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion pre­dicts an in­crease in the fre­quency of fair-weather flood­ing in the U.S. South­east.

Ten years from now, the av­er­age num­ber of high tide days is pro­jected to in­crease to seven to 15 days, ac­cord­ing to NOAA, and by 2050, they could in­crease to 25 to 75 days.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.