Federal scientists predict 2019 will set flooding record

Federal scientists predict 2019 will set flooding record
© Getty Images

Rising sea levels and an abnormal El Niño weather pattern mean 2019 will break annual flooding records, federal scientists predicted in a report released Wednesday.

The report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicts that 40 places in the country will experience higher than normal rates of so-called "sunny day" flooding this year.


“Annual flood records are expected to be broken again next year and for years and decades to come from [sea-level] rise,” the report reads.

“Flooding that decades ago usually happened only during a powerful or localized storm can now happen when a steady breeze or a change in coastal current overlaps with a high tide.”

Sunny day flooding, which occurs during high tide events, has doubled since 2000, according to the report.

The average number of days with such flooding could reach 7 to 15 days a year by 2030 and 25 to 75 days a year by 2050, up from five days in 2018, the report found.

“U.S. coastal communities are faced with mounting challenges as sea levels rise,” acting NOAA Director Nicole LeBoeuf said in a statement.

“NOAA’s tide gauge observations not only ensure safe maritime navigation but are now providing critical information about changes in coastal flood risk to help communities prepare for and plan for a more resilient future.”

Increased flooding is already causing beach erosion, overwhelmed sewer and drinking water systems, closed roadways, degraded infrastructure and reduced property values. The report says these issues “are nearly certain to get much worse this century."