The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the number of nuisance flood days in the U.S. jumped 50 percent during the meteorological year May 2015 to April 2016.
Several areas, including Miami and Key West, broke records for the number of days where high tides caused water to overtake sea walls and rush into streets.
In Miami, where the tidal gauge is measured at Virginia Key, there were 18 nuisance flood days. Key West had 14 days.
“Tidal flooding is increasing in frequency within the U.S. coastal communities due to sea level rise from climate change and local land subsidence (sinking),” a report released this week by NOAA says. “Decades ago, powerful storms caused such impacts, but due to sea level rise, more common events are more impactful.”
The study looked at 28 long-term gauges across the U.S.
While none of the gauges were in Palm Beach County, the region did suffer from nuisance or “sunny day” flooding in the fall, especially in areas along the Intracoastal.
In September and October, municipal officials from Jupiter to Boca Raton were ready with “road closed” signs as streets known to flood were shut down.
NOAA measurements taken from a buoy off Lake Worth show sea levels rising at 3.36 millimeters per year, or 1.10 feet in 100 years. That’s similar to readings at Marathon Key that show a 3.34 millimeter increase per year, and Tampa, which is measuring an annual increase of 3.15 millimeters.
It’s considerably below New Orleans, which is experiencing a 9.03 millimeter rise in sea levels per year, or 3 feet over 100 years.
Still, the impact on South Florida is evident any time more than gravitational or atmospheric or oceanic power combines to embolden coastal waters.
“A few inches matters in South Florida when we have such a low land elevation,” said Jayantha Obeysekera, chief modeler for hydrologic and environmental systems at the South Florida Water Management District in October.
The flooding into backyards and streets in September when the moon reached perigee — the closest it comes to Earth in its orbit — simultaneously with it becoming full and a lunar eclipse, was some of the worst local officials said they’ve seen.
“Impacts of nuisance flooding include degraded storm water systems, infiltration into waste-water systems, contamination of fresh water supplies and salt-water flooding of roads, homes and businesses,” the report says. “Tidal flooding is disrupting commerce and ways of life.”
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