High-tide flooding has doubled in 20 years with the Texas coastline especially vulnerable

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GALVESTON, TX – MAY 01: People sunbathe on the beach after it was reopened on May 1, 2020 in Galveston, Texas. As part of phase one Gov. Greg Abbott reopened the beaches to the public Friday along with restaurants and retailers. (Photo by Callaghan O’Hare/Getty Images)

AUSTIN (KXAN) – 2020 was a record-breaking year for high tide flooding in the United States according to a new report from NOAA.

High tide flooding is typically brought on when high tides are 1.75-2 feet or more above the typical daily high tide.

High tide flooding not only brings excess water to roads and basements and other low lying areas along the shore, but it also impacts waste and storm-water infrastructure.

Sea level rise is causing the increase in high-tide flooding. Rising sea levels mean that we are more susceptible to common tidal changes due to full moons or on-shore winds. If a high tide coincides with a surge caused by a storm then the problems get worse.

That frequency of days with flooding from high tides has doubled over the last 20 years along the U.S. coastline. A trend that is expected to continue…

“NOAA’s tide gauges show that 80% of locations where we collect data along the Southeast Atlantic and Gulf coast are seeing an acceleration in the number of flood days,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “High-tide flooding disrupts people’s lives when they can’t get to and from work or have to repeatedly deal with a flooded basement. NOAA is committed to working with coastal communities to provide the information and tools they need to tackle the problem of high-tide flooding, both now and in the coming years as sea levels continue to rise.”

Parts of the Texas shoreline have seen an especially noticeable increase in the number of days with high-tide flooding. In Corpus Christi and Galveston, more than 20 days of high tide flooding were reported from May 2020 to April 2021. Those areas would usually only flood due to high tide 2-3 days per year back in the year 2000. Port Isabel saw some noticeable increases as well with 10-20 days of high tide flooding over the past year, compared to less than 2 days of high tide flooding 20 years ago.

The frequency of high-tide flooding was much higher in these areas than the national average.

Nationally U.S. coastline should expect 3-7 days of high-tide flooding this year. By 2030 those numbers should rise to 7-15 days. By 2050 projections bring high-tide flooding 25-75 days per year. What’s causing the increase? Those projections come from a range of scenarios based on modelling potential sea level rise going into the future. You guessed it, the sea level rise is due to Climate Change.

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