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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, July 11, 2019 1:00 am

Report: Rising sea levels to increase tidal flooding

Associated Press

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – The federal government is warning Americans to brace for a “floodier” future.

Government scientists predict 40 places in the U.S. will experience higher than normal rates of so-called sunny day flooding this year because of rising sea levels and an abnormal El Nino weather system.

A report released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that sunny day flooding, also known as tidal flooding, will continue to increase.

“The future is already here, a floodier future,” said William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer and lead author of the study.

The report predicted that annual flood records will be broken again next year and for decades to come from sea-level rise. “Flooding that decades ago usually happened only during a powerful or localized storm can now happen when a steady breeze or a change in coastal current overlaps with a high tide,” it read.

The nationwide average frequency of sunny day flooding in 2018 was five days a year, tying a record set in 2015.

But the East Coast averaged twice as much flooding. The agency says the level of sunny day flooding in the U.S. has doubled since 2000.

Nationwide, the agency predicted, average sunny day flooding could reach 7 to 15 days a year by 2030, and 25 to 75 days a year by 2050.

“We cannot wait to act,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA's Ocean Service. “This issue gets more urgent and complicated with every passing day.”

Global sea levels are rising at a rate of about 3 millimeters a year, or about an inch every eight years, according to Rutgers University researchers, who predict that by 2050, seas off New Jersey will rise by an additional 1.4 feet.