There Are a Lot More Floods Than There Used to Be
According to a Reuters analysis, over the last 40 years, the number of days per year that tidal waters reach or exceed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) flood thresholds has more than tripled in many places, meaning water has pooled in streets and can close roads, damage properties and overwhelm drainage systems as waters continue to rise. Water has reached flood levels an average of 20 days or more per year since 2001 in Annapolis, Md; Wilmington, N.C.; Washington, D.C.; Atlantic City, N.J.; Sandy Hook, N.J.; and Charleston, S.C. Before 1971, none of those locations averaged more than five days per year.
The Reuters findings are supported by a pair of soon-to-be-published studies from scientists at NOAA and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Old Dominion University researchers Tal Ezer and Larry Atkinson found in their study that the U.S. East Coast is “a hotspot of accelerated flooding,” and that flooding outside of storm events has increased in frequency and duration. They found that changes in the Gulf Stream may be contributing to increased flooding from rising sea levels. The researchers said that as the climate has warmed the current has weakened, so it’s not pulling as much water away.