Car driving through flooded street

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and … your street is flooded?

So-called “nuisance flooding” happens when high-tide waters pour into coastal communities. It may have nothing to do with rainwater or storm surge. And as sea levels rise, it’s getting more common.

William Sweet of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that, on average, high-tide flooding around the country is now twice as common as it was 30 years ago. Last year, some places in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Texas saw more than 20 days with high-tide flooding.

And he says the problem is growing quickly.

Sweet: “Small amounts of sea-level rise can make a very large difference in the number of days that communities are going to experience water in the streets.”

Sweet: “So the question is: at what point does the frequency become sufficient that it really drives and it demands change? Folks that live in areas that are flooding just aren’t going to tolerate driving through water to get to their houses, to get to businesses.”

Sweet says cities need to act now to assess flood defenses, budget for improved infrastructure, and plan for a future with more water.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo credit: NOAA.

Sarah Kennedy is an editor and content producer with ChavoBart Digital Media, a production firm with a focus on scientific and environmental media. Her work on Climate Connections includes developing story...