New Flood Recipe! No Hurricane Needed… Just Add Water..

October 28, 2015

Angela Fritz for Capital Weather Gang:

Ocean water surged into neighborhoods on the Southeast coast on Tuesday morning during high tide, pushing gauges well beyond predicted levels. Seemingly overnight, spurred by sea level rise, we’ve entered an era where king tides compete with hurricanes in the water level record books.

Tuesday morning’s high tide peaked at 8.69 feet in Charleston, over a foot and a half higher than the predicted level. The highest crest on record in Charleston was 12.56 feet on Sept. 21, 1989 — the day that Hurricane Hugo made landfall in South Carolina.


The water level near Savannah, Ga., reached 10.43 feet, which was the third highest on record for the station. The top two records are 10.47 feet on Aug. 11, 1940, when a Category 2 hurricane made landfall on the Georgia and South Carolina coast, and 10.87 on Oct. 15, 1947, when Hurricane Nine made landfall in the same location.

Residents are saying Tuesday’s high tide was worse than South Carolina’s “1,000-year flood” in early October.


Only three events produced higher tides at Charleston Harbor: Hugo on Sep. 21, 1989 (12.56 feet), an August 11, 1940 hurricane (10.27 feet) and a New Year’s Day 1987 coastal storm (8.84 feet) produced higher tides at Charleston Harbor.

Tuesday’s tide level was 4-5 inches higher than the peak measured during the historic South Carolina flooding and coastal flooding event earlier in October. Fortunately this time, there wasn’t 17-27 inches of rainfall occurring at the same time.

6 Responses to “New Flood Recipe! No Hurricane Needed… Just Add Water..”

  1. climatebob Says:

    I would have been very interested to know if the slowing of the Gulf stream,which can add to sea level rise quickly, was taken into account.–news/-gulf-stream-slowing-and-sea-level-rise

  2. indy222 Says:

    Right. The Coriolis Force helps keep both of our coastlines from as high a tide as would normally happen if the currents were slower. The documented slowing of the Gulf Stream is already a fact, and will probably worsen as Greenland adds more freshwater to that area where the thermohaline circulation takes surface waters to the bottom of the ocean.

  3. Mike Dever Says:

    Also, Canada damming rivers into the Hudson slowing down current into the Atlantic, also impacting the gulf stream. Population Growth: it can get too high.

    • j4zonian Says:

      Canada’s population growth not counting net immigration is .4% a year and is slowing. In fact, the only groups still growing in numbers through births are the poorest, and they have almost no effect on climate catastrophe. (The poorest 6 billion emit only a little more than 20% of human greenhouse gases; the richest 7% emit half the GHGs.)

      Population growth is only a very small part of our problem. The actions of the rich are almost the whole problem. Since the carbon budget we have left to keep the world from rising more than 2°C (a goal much too high to be safe) means we have about 5 years to stop emitting greenhouse gases and start sequestering them in a major way, no population solution can be anything but a rounding error on the current dire crisis. We need to concentrate on the real solutions.

  4. j4zonian Says:

    This has little to do with population growth. Canada’s population, not counting immigration, is rising at .4% a year, and like pretty much all developed countries, the growth has been slowing and continues to.

    While population is growing faster in poorer countries, the growth there is slowing too, and population is expected to level off at less than 9 billion by 2050 (although climate catastrophe is likely to make that sooner and lower.) We should do what we can to speed the slowth even more by encouraging equality, education and empowerment especially of women, and security for all in sickness, old age and hard times. But we need to survive long enough to accomplish it, and for it to make a difference.

    In any case, the poorest 6 billion people on Earth cause only a little more than 20% of human greenhouse gases and a similar proportion of other ecological problems, while the richest 7% cause half the GHGs. And since the carbon budget to stay under 2°C (itself a far too high and dangerous change) means we have to stop burning fossil fuels in about 5 years, no population solution can be anything but a tiny help in our current crisis. Our problem is the rich people in the world and the solution is to power their lives (and everyone else’s) with clean renewable energy, and feed, clothe and house everyone with low-meat organic permaculture production, while we reforest the world.

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