Cape Could See 20 Days of High Tide Flooding Each Year by 2030

Jul 11, 2019

A map points to coastal communities along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts that are particularly vulnerable to high tide flooding. The Cape could see as many as 20 days of high tide flooding per year by 2030.
Credit National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

A new report predicts coastal communities in the Northeast will be hit harder by high tide flooding than any other region in the country.  

The report, produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Assocation (NOAA), compares flooding in 98 coastal towns and cities, including Nantucket and Woods Hole.  

In the next decade, Woods Hole is expected to see as many as 20 days of high tide flooding per year and by 2050 that number could rise to 35-135 days per year.     

Both Nantucket and Woods Hole experienced two days of high tide flooding this past year, but that number could triple in the coming year.  

On average, the Northeast could see as many as 130 days of coastal flooding each year by 2050. That's a 140% increase since 2000. 

During a media confernece, William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer  and lead author on the report, put that into persective.   

"By the time a new 30 year mortgage is paid off by about 2050, the New York City region--which had about 12 days of high tides flooding in 2018--will experience somewhere between 55 and 135 days of high tide flooding on average," he said. 

The report emphasized the damage that could be done to coastal communities from these floods. Scientists warn it could  could affect local economies, tourism and crucial infrastructure like septic and freshwater systems.

The Northeast’s particularly active oceans, and rising sea levels – a result of climate change – are responsible for the accelerating rate of flooding, according to the researchers.  

Still, they emphasize that while their predictions look towards the future, high tide flooding is an immediate and pressing problem.

"It's not a year 2100 issue. The impacts are here and now," Sweet said. "We’re doing these types of reports so folks can get a better handle on what to expect as they plan and prepare for the future."