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New Study Finds Steep Increase in East Coast High-Tide Floods

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Flooding events may triple in 15 years, increase ten-fold in 30 years for most towns analyzed, science group finds

WASHINGTON – Flooding during high tides—something that rarely occurred in the past—is now common in some places and is projected to grow to the point that sections of coastal cities may flood so often they would become unusable in the near future, according to a report the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) just released, "Encroaching Tides: How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years.”

“Several decades ago, flooding at high tide was simply not a problem,” said Melanie Fitzpatrick, report co-author and climate scientist at UCS. “Today, when the tide is extra high, people find themselves splashing through downtown Miami, Norfolk and Annapolis on sunny days and dealing with flooded roads in Atlantic City, Savannah and the coast of New Hampshire. In parts of New York City and elsewhere, homeowners are dealing with flooded basements, salt-poisoned yards and falling property values, not only because of catastrophic storms, but because tides, aided by sea level rise, now cause flooding where they live.”

The UCS study is based on an analysis of 52 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gauges in communities stretching from Portland, Maine to Freeport, Texas, using moderate sea level rise projections. The analysis reveals that in the next 15 years, most of the towns analyzed could see a tripling in the number of high-tide floods each year and in 30 years a ten-fold increase compared to historic levels.

Researchers say the increases in flooding are so pervasive that Atlantic Coast communities not covered by the analysis may need to brace for similar changes.

The study found the problem will rapidly worsen as sea level rises...