A soon-to-be published report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts a future where flooding will be a weekly event in some coastal parts of the country.
The report, obtained by National Public Radio, predicts rising seas will cause some coastal cities to flood with high tides on sunny days.
"The numbers are staggering," NOAA oceanographer William Sweet told NPR. "Today's storm will be tomorrow's high tide," he says, referring to how high coastal water rises. "A storm [such as we experienced] along the East Coast of the United States this weekend, that will be a high tide at some point in the future, whether that's two or three decades or eight decades, we'll see, but it's coming."
Even without a storm, high tides are already flooding cities like Miami and Norfolk, Va., and NOAA’s latest calculations show a future where sunny day flooding will become much more frequent.
NOAA has also found the rate of increase in tidal flooding is accelerating in about a third of the places they've tracked. "The problem is going to become chronic rather quickly," said Sweet. "It's not going to be a slow, gradual change.”
Others are having that conversation, such as the U.S. military. Retired Navy Rear Adm. Ann Phillips said military leaders are aware that warming means sea level rise.
That's especially worrisome for the Navy. "We can't use historical data to plan what's coming because it won't work," Phillips said.
The NOAA report, entitled "Patterns and Protections of High Tide Flooding Along the U.S. Coastline Using a Common Impact Threshold," is due to be released later this week.