“Sea level rise flooding of U.S. coastlines is happening now, and it is becoming more frequent each year.” That warning is the opening sentence of a new U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report titled “2019 State of U.S. High Tide Flooding with a 2020 Outlook”.
Agency scientists report that in 2019 fifteen communities, including Miami, Charleston, and Savannah, set records for the number of days that they experienced so-called “sunny day” flooding that isn’t related to rain storms or storm surge. From May through April, East Point, a city near Houston, TX, reported 64 days of high-tide flooding.
According to the report, the situation is going to get much, much worse as sea levels continue to rise in the coming decades. In some cases, it will reach the point that the high tides now bringing “nuisance” flooding will one day be considered the normal high tide.
It’s important to note that NOAA only measures high-tide flooding at 89 sites, so there may be many more communities experiencing regular sea level rise flooding on an increasing basis that aren’t included in the agency’s findings. The experts list New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington among the communities that could see 100 days a year of high-tide flooding by 2050.
Of special interest to real estate owners, the report mentions that the bouts of sea level rise-driven flooding are already “damaging to infrastructure and cause other economic impacts (transportation delays, businesses closed, tourism impacts, etc.) in coastal communities”. As we’ve seen, coastal cities and towns are already scrambling to find hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for projects — such as sea walls, pumps and the raising of roads and water and sewer pipes — to deal with sea level rise flooding. With federal funds hard to come by, the burden of paying for the much-needed projects will likely fall on taxpayers. Owners and buyers need to stay informed about this pressing problem to protect their financial futures.