High tides are flooding coastal communities even on sunny days


The tide is high and coastal communities are holding on as the sea bubbles forth from storm drains and onto their streets. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines high tide flooding as when tides reach 1.75 to 2 feet above the daily tidal average and start spilling into low-lying areas via streets or drains. 

In addition, these “sunny day” floods are happening without a storm exacerbating water levels.

Compared to 2021, two NOAA water level stations stand out in enduring high tide flooding. 

Reedy Point, Delaware had six high tide floods this year, one more than in 2021, while Myrtle Beach, South Carolina tied its 2021 record of 11 high tide floods.

In a NOAA news release, Nicole LeBoeuf, director of the National Ocean Service, noted that “The East and Gulf coasts already experience twice as many days of high tide flooding compared to the year 2000, flooding shorelines, streets and basements and damaging critical infrastructure.”

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The gradual and inexorable rise in sea level is stressing coastal defenses. 

NOAA oceanographer William Sweet told USA Today that “Water levels are nearing the brim in many communities. We’re having sunny day flooding, (with) no storm at all and you’re starting to overwhelm the defenses.”

NOAA projects that, by 2050, sea levels will have risen by a foot and that our coasts will see 45 to 70 high tide floods per year on average.


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