Rising Tides: How Near-Daily Flooding of America’s Shorelines Could Become the Norm


Research Brief by Climate Central

One morning last October, Miami’s municipal government issued a warning to drivers in the area: they should avoid much of the city’s center, because it had been inundated. “Today, Miami is flooding as if a hurricane went through it,” the city’s mayor wrote on Twitter.

No hurricane had hit Miami that week. The flooding was the result of a “king tide” — an especially intense high tide brought about by a particular alignment of the moon and sun that usually occurs in the fall and winter. Rain and wind had amplified the tide’s effects.

Coastal flooding in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami, Florida in October, 2015.
Credit: Florida Sea Grant/flickr

Minor floods, and the damage and disruption they cause, have grown far more common in the last few decades. As sea levels rise thanks to human-caused climate change and other factors, these floods will become more common still. 

Many minor floods are a matter of inches rather than feet, but some — like last October’s in Miami — are deep enough to disrupt traffic and other systems. Even a few inches of water in the basements or ground floors of homes