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US East Coast to See Daily Tidal Floods by 2045

Oct 08, 2014 10:18 AM EDT

With global sea levels rising, high tides are predicted to become a normalcy in the coming years due to global warming, according to a new report released Wednesday. US coastal cities in particular can expect to see daily tidal floods by 2045.

"Several decades ago, flooding at high tide was simply not a problem," Melanie Fitzpatrick, the report's co-author, said in a press release.

Now, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) behind the findings say within the next three decades the nation's capital and the capital of Maryland will experience about 400 floods per year, sometimes twice in a single day. And other cities along the Atlantic coast will have it nearly as bad.

Miami and Atlantic City, for example, can expect at least 240 days of flooding by 2045, while high-tide floods in Philadelphia, Charleston, S.C., and Key West, Fla. will have about 180 events or more annually, according to the report.

As glaciers and polar ice caps melt, sea levels are swelling, thereby creating a higher platform for tides and storm surges. Today, US cities typically experience tidal flooding solely during storms and when gusting winds push the high tide further inland. But these "nuisance" floods, as they're called, will soon occur with tides alone in nearly half of the UCS cities analyzed.

Scientists projected the trends 15 to 30 years into the future at 52 sites around the country, based on data from the NOAA. The analysis revealed that in the next 15 years, most of these towns could see a tripling in the number of high-tide floods each year and in 30 years a 10-fold increase compared to historic levels.

Many coastal communities are already struggling to cope with routine flooding, which can make streets impassable and overwhelm storm-drainage systems, as well as cause significant property damage. Future floods, while not catastrophic, are still seriously concerning. The researchers suggest communities, states and the federal government begin flood-proofing homes and infrastructure.

"No longer an intangible global trend, sea level rise has arrived on the doorstep of communities scattered up and down the east coast, delivered by the tides," said the report.

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