NOAA Report on Coastal Flooding Alarming for NJ
A new report from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that more than 40 locations in the U.S. will experience higher than normal rates of “sunny-day” flooding – or tidal flooding — in 2019. Three communities monitored in New Jersey – Sandy Hook, Atlantic City, and Cape May – can all expect more instances of tidal flooding than in 2018. The NOAA predicts that increases in tidal flooding will continue for decades. Projections for 2050 show that New Jersey locations will be among the most frequently flooded in the country.
“This new report from NOAA shows that New Jersey is among the most vulnerable states in the nation to impacts from sea level rise and climate change. This report is specifically disturbing because it comes from the Trump administration, which is led by climate deniers. Most concerning are the long-term impacts that show New Jersey will be among the hardest hit regions in the country. Flooding is already occurring more often even on sunny days in places like Sandy Hook, Atlantic City and Cape May. NOAA did its job in providing this data, which should set off even louder alarm bells about our vulnerability to climate impacts,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The Murphy administration needs a wakeup call. They are not using data to update maps and change rules and regulations to improve sea level rise and climate impacts.”
Sunny day flooding refers to flooding that occurs during high tides unrelated to storms. The flooding can result from a steady breeze or a change in coastal current overlapping with a high tide. As sea levels rise and climate impacts grow, instances of sunny day flooding will continue to increase.
“We can see in this report how serious coastal flooding is becoming. Similar concerns have been raised in reports from Rutgers and other sources. However Gov. Murphy is showing no sense of urgency in combating climate impacts. We need to use the most up-to-date data for our maps and coastal development planning. Without the latest science, we can’t elevate to proper heights or predict sea level rise correctly. We’re building in the wrong places and putting people at risk. We are the only state in the region without a Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Plan. We must reopen the Office of Climate Change and the Office of Climate Adaptation and Management,” said Tittel. “A Zillow study found there are 61,000 homes in New Jersey now in jeopardy of flooding. In another 30-40 years that number could reach 250,000 unless we make serious changes.”
Rutgers University predicts the coast will see a 1.4-foot increase in sea level by 2050. The NOAA estimates that Sandy Hook, Atlantic City and Cape May could experience as many as 160 days of tidal flooding by 2050. We are also now 17 times more likely to be hit with another storm like Hurricane Sandy. This will put our coastal and flood-prone communities at greater risk.
“The state must use the NOAA report and other data to make changes in protecting our coast. Under CAFRA (Coastal Area Facility Review Act) we have areas underwater still listed as growth areas, such as Mystic Island and Gandy’s Beach. Those rules need to be changed. Creating a Coastal Commission would allow better planning for regional development. We also need to update regulations and buy out flood-prone properties. Sea level rise is already damaging coastal towns. Streets are going underwater during full moons. Sewers are backing up more often,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “By 2050, Sandy Hook is projected to suffer from tidal flooding as many as 160 days a year. Atlantic City and Cape May aren’t far behind. We have the science to help better protect our coasts. The state just needs to use it before it’s too late.”