Intensified by Climate Change, ‘King Tides’ Change Ways of Life in Florida
from the N.Y. Times – By LIZETTE ALVAREZ and FRANCES ROBLES – NOV. 17, 2016
On Monday morning, shortly after November’s so-called supermoon dropped from view on Mola Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale … Seawater gurgled audibly up through manhole covers and seeped from the grass. Under a sunny sky, the water drowned docks and slid over low sea walls. By 8:15 a.m., peak tide, this street in the Las Olas Isles neighborhood was inundated, …
In South Florida, which takes rising sea levels seriously enough to form a regional compact to deal with global warming, climate change is no abstract issue. By 2100, sea levels could swell high enough to submerge 12.5 percent of Florida’s homes. These so-called king tides, which happen frequently, are the most blatant example of the interplay between rising seas and the alignment of the moon, sun and Earth. Even without a drop of rain, some places flood routinely.
In much of South Florida, including Broward County and Fort Lauderdale, finding short- and long-term fixes to the challenges of flooding caused by rising seas is a priority. A new position now exists to deal with it: resiliency chief or sustainability director.
Pumps and backflow valves have been put in place. Roads will be or have been elevated (most famously in Miami Beach, which invested $400 million to deal with flooding). Sea walls are being raised. Counties are also beginning to rethink building codes. Taken together, the costs will be enormous.
In the next five decades, the seas could rise two to three feet, said Jennifer Jurado, Broward County’s chief resiliency officer.
“It’s been going on 25 years, but each year it’s worse,” he added. “When I first came here, during spring tides, you had a splash here, a splash there.”
Erratic as the weather can be at times, Dr. Muench, 82, who has lived in this graceful neighborhood of banyan trees and salt-sprinkled air for 40 years, said he was certain about one thing: Global warming is the culprit for the shin-high water that regularly covers the road in front of his house.
“There has been a definite, gradual increase since the onset of information about global warming,” he said. “The canal is rising because the ocean is rising.”
Shirley Borg gripped the steering wheel of her Honda Accord, traveling at a turtle’s pace through saltwater a few inches deep that was rising all over her street. The homeowners here on Adams Drive know the drill: Drive slowly to keep the splash down, or drive quickly and risk ruining your car.
“I just replaced the wheel bearings because the seals were broken from saltwater,” she said. “I asked, ‘How does that happen?’ And they said, ‘Do you go through a lot of brackish water?’ Oh, yeah.”
Ms. Borg has lived in Twin Lakes, a waterfront community, for 11 years, and floodwaters are now a regular feature of the neighborhood.
“The first seven years, we only flooded twice,” Ms. Borg said on Tuesday.
Last year, 10 inches of water outside often trapped residents in their homes. Ms. Borg’s car sits five inches off the ground, so do the math. In 2015, she went carless for two weeks — not even flatbed truck drivers wanted to chance it. Some people in her neighborhood left their cars somewhere else and commuted, Florida Keys style, by boat. Others lost their cars altogether; saltwater is particularly corrosive to engines and metal.
“A climate change denier?” quipped Benjamin Klitzkie, standing in his driveway on Tuesday morning as the water encroached. “I got a house for you in Key Largo.”
County officials are meeting regularly with homeowners to discuss raising the road and other improvements. They have stopped issuing building permits on the street, Mr. Klitzkie said.
“It’s sinking,” he said. “And the seas are rising.”
Rhonda Haag, Monroe County’s sustainability director, said officials had done an analysis of some county roads. The conclusion was that elevating them, including on Shaw Drive, would be the best option. But it is expensive — raising one road six inches costs $1 million for a third of a mile — and complicated.
“And we do recognize the fact that we will lose certain places sooner rather than later — some of the natural areas first,” Ms. Haag said.
For Frank Garces, an insurance adjuster who moved here less than two years ago, it cannot happen fast enough. He said he never used to give global warming a second thought. “Now,” he said, “I’m researching moon phases and tides.”
Lizette Alvarez reported from Fort Lauderdale, and Frances Robles from Key Largo.
It is not just Florida, It is the entire east coast!
A Sharp Increase In ‘Sunny Day’ Flooding
By JONATHAN CORUM SEPT. 3, 2016
Global warming and rising seas are increasing the amount of tidal flooding on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Flood levels are different from city to city, but the trends are similar.
The Battery, New York City
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy laid bare the city’s vulnerability to storm surges and tidal flooding. The city is spending some $20 billion on a resilience plan.
High tides now regularly flood the old City Dock, the heart of downtown. A statue commemorating the historic television series “Roots” is sometimes under water.
At high tide, water can back up in the old sewers and bubble into the streets. The city is spending more than $200 million on improvements.
Miami Beach plans to spend at least $400 million to raise streets, install pumps and elevate seawalls.