As the remnants of Tropical Storm Hermine begin their trawl through the Middle Atlantic states, here comes more news about phenomena that exacerbate the impact of hurricanes:
This summer, on a driving tour of Norfolk and nearby towns, William A. Stiles Jr. pointed to the telltale signs that the ocean is gradually invading the region.
He spotted crusts of dried salt in the streets, and salt-loving marsh grasses that are taking over suburban yards. He pointed out trees killed by seawater. He stood next to one of the road signs that Norfolk has been forced to install in recent years, essentially huge vertical rulers so people know the depth of floodwaters at low-lying intersections.
“There’s just more and more visible impacts: water on the street, water that won’t clear from the ditch, these intense rain events, higher tides,” Mr. Stiles said.
For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.
Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.
Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding — often called “sunny-day flooding” — along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly. Shifts in the Pacific Ocean mean that the West Coast, partly spared over the past two decades, may be hit hard, too.
These tidal floods are often just a foot or two deep, but they can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars, kill lawns and forests, and poison wells with salt. Moreover, the high seas interfere with the drainage of storm water.
In my own realm, Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach have spent hundreds of millions reclaiming bay and oceanfront property from waters that lap fire hydrants and parked cars during the most workaday storms. And it’s still no more than a bandage. The article does cite the laudable work of South Florida local leaders pairing with private business for land reclamation and new sewage plants, but if they get no legislative support yet mockery instead what price?