King Tide Floods in South Carolina and Florida

A king tide combined with persistent onshore winds led to coastal flooding across parts of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Louisiana on 27 and 28 October 2015, causing some localized property damage.

Tides peaked at 8.68 feet above mean lower low water (MLLW) in Charleston Harbor, the location’s fourth highest tide since records began in 1921.

Commenting on the floods, Emily Paterson, senior manager of the event response team at RMS said: “Many areas of South Carolina are still recovering from the severe rainfall and flooding event that inundated the state earlier this month. Tides are expected to be higher than normal along the U.S. East Coast through October 28, but the worst of flooding is likely now over for South Carolina and Georgia.”

According to RMS, the flood water was driven onshore as a result of the pressure gradient between an area of high pressure currently centred over the Northeast U.S. and a low pressure area over the northern Gulf Coast, resulting in persistent east to northeast winds, in combination with the monthly spring tides corresponding to this month’s full moon, known as the ‘Hunters Moon’: associated with when the moon is at the closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit.

Elsewhere, minor flooding inundated some streets in Miami Beach, Delray Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida with minor flooding also reported in Waveland, Mississippi, and Slidell, Louisiana.

Increase in “Nuisance Flooding” Along US Coastlines

According to a NOAA report released in July 2014, so-called “nuisance flooding” similar to the recent experiences in South Carolina and Florida, has increased on all three U.S. coasts, between 300 and 925 percent since the 1960s.

Nuisance flooding – which causes public inconveniences such as frequent road closures, overwhelmed storm drains, and compromised infrastructure – has increased by 400 percent in Charleston since the 1960s alone, according to the report.

The report concludes that any acceleration in sea level rise that is predicted to occur this century will further intensify nuisance flooding impacts over time, and will further reduce the time between flood events.

Image: NOAA
Image: NOAA

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