sunny day flooding

Study Confirms What We Are Seeing - Nuisance Flooding is Increasing/Will Continue to Increase

Porjections of flood days per year, from NOAA Study

Porjections of flood days per year, from NOAA Study

SNAPSHOT: A new study from NOAA projects increases in high tide flooding onto streets and sidewalks in shoreline communities. These floods will occur every other day - possibly every day - by 2100 even using very conservative sea level rise estimates. Given the time and money required to mitigate the damage from this constant flooding, we need to start yesterday to put adaptation measures in place.

BACKSTORY: Anecdotally, Wetlands Watch has been hearing for years that tidal water levels seem to be increasing. At community meetings and service club talks, we heard more complaints that tidal waters were lapping over roads and sidewalks and coming up out of stormwater pipes and ditches. We observed changes in rural ditches in Mathews County, ditches that were dry when we started working up there in 2008 and now are full of water most days and have tidal wetlands plants growing in them. We have documented this nuisance flooding in urban areas.

Projections for Downtown Norfolk, VA by Dr's. Tal Ezer and Larry Atkinson of Old Dominion University.

Projections for Downtown Norfolk, VA by Dr's. Tal Ezer and Larry Atkinson of Old Dominion University.

In the graph above, two oceanographers from Old Dominion University in Virginia developed projections of future nuisance flood risk. The blue in the graph is the observed flooding (hours per year) since the tide gauge at the Norfolk Naval Station was put into service in 1927. The green bars in the graph are the projected flooding hours/year with the current rate of sea level rise. The red bars are the projected flooding hours/year with the accelerated rate of sea level rise we are seeing, about twice the current rate.

Solutions? Start today with detailed maps of where flooding will occur. Take extra precautions to build "freeboard" or additional flood protection into local land use actions or federal investments along the coast. Start developing comprehensive plans among all the stakeholders - public and private - to address the flooding.

Oh, and we need to start stacking up the dollar bills needed to pay for all the work we have to do.

Sunny Day Flooding - More and More of it

On July 30, 2017, we had a high tide caused by wind from the N/NE. The wind pushed the water about 4.5 feet above mean sea level and unfortunately that is all it takes here in Norfolk, on low-lying streets, to cause flooding. The stretch of road in the video below is Llewellyn Ave. It is known to flood all the time, such frequent flooding that the city has installed "rulers" alongside the road to let you know how deep the water is. Such frequent flooding that the plants in the foreground are wetlands plants.

This was a wetland 100 years ago, was filled in, and now it wants to be - is actually becoming - a wetland again. No wonder when we ask people at public meetings, "How many of you have driven through salt water on the roads in the last year?", most of the hands go up.

The pictures below were taken that same sunny day as I wandered around the city of Norfolk to record the nuisance flooding these events bring. Again, not storms, just wind at the wrong time of the tide cycle...and we get water running onto the street