Dress Rehearsal for a Drowned Miami

August 15, 2017

While I was in Miami producing a video with Rolling Stone’s Jeff Goodell, (see above and below) I got caught in a tropical downpour only slightly less intense than the one that happened a couple weeks ago.
I was catching a cab from Miami to Miami Beach across the Causeway – in the space of a few minutes a light sprinkle turned into blinding sheets of falling water.  It was the worst timing, with evening high tide impending. In the time it took to drive across Biscayne Bay, the streets of Miami Beach flooded to curb level, and I had to jump from the cab to sidewalk, dragging camera bags, to avoid being soaked to half-calf level.

Shot the quick video below as the water was receding.

Local news from a day later commented on the situation.

The double whammy for low lying areas is that intense flash rains like this will continue to become more common – even as sea level rises, squeezing communities in between.

precipchange500

Washington Post:

During the afternoon hours Tuesday, torrential rain drenched parts of Miami and Miami Beach. Four to seven inches of rain fell in a matter of a few hours before and during the evening rush, causing extensive flooding and gridlock.

This region is no stranger to tropical downpours, but this amount of rain falling in a short time will create flash flooding just about anywhere. And in some ways, because it is so low-lying, this region is more vulnerable to flooding than many as it depends on storm drains being able to drain into nearby Biscayne Bay. Unfortunately, in this case, the water had nowhere to go as the heaviest rain came as the tide was rising. It couldn’t drain until the tides began to go back down hours later.

Year by year, as the average water level increases due to sea-level rise, high tides become more of a problem — either by reducing the ability of storm drains to function or by actually bringing salt water up onto the streets when they’re very high.

Cars floated on the curbs, and neighbors helped push stranded motorists down the street. Parked cars on flooded roads bobbed in the wake as larger trucks and SUVs passed.

While some parts of Miami Beach have giant pumps installed to help remove water from the streets, they don’t yet have backup generators. Tuesday’s storms came with an amazing amount of lightning and knocked out power for a while, rendering those pumps useless during the highest rain rates.

Note water up against glass doors in tweet below.
Important to remember that this water is not just salty and corrosive, it is contaminated with sewage and pathogens as well.

Wash Post again:

However, thanks to sandy soil and the tides going back down after the rain, it didn’t take too long for the water to drain away. But the damage was done to vehicles, houses and businesses. And although that rainfall total in Miami Beach was impressive, it wasn’t a daily record — that was set June 5, 2009: 9.3 inches.

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20 Responses to “Dress Rehearsal for a Drowned Miami”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Meanwhile, George Washington is probably rolling over in his grave about climate change denial and the state of the country. Mount Vernon was hit with SIX to SEVEN inches of rain in ONE (!) hour on Saturday. Flash flooding is becoming all too common in the DC metro area— though it’s too bad it doesn’t occur around the White House (except for the Twitter BS floods from the Orange Disaster).

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/thunderstorms-torrent-triggers-damaging-mudslide-at-mount-vernon-estate/2017/08/12/6b9eb12e-7f6c-11e7-9d08-b79f191668ed_story.html?utm_term=.426649e9819c

  2. Ron Voisin Says:

    If only we had a carbon tax…those King Tides would stop happening.

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Ron…. get with the program.

      There are no king tides. There is no sea level rise, despite the fake news you hear about glaciers, Greenland, and polar ice melting and the fake news you hear about the oceans warming.

      Global warming is causing Miami to =>subside<=.

    • wpNSAlito Says:

      If only we had a carbon tax when it was reasonably proposed decades ago, we’d have tempered the rate of rise to give more time to respond, and maybe saved more coastal cities from the same fate.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        Yep, but don’t waste your time trying to get Ron to understand that. He’d rather attempt to be sarcastic and make dumb jokes than discuss the realities of climate change and SLR.


  3. If only we had a bullsh** tax, you would make us wealthy!

  4. Ron Voisin Says:

    No worries…a carbon tax can raise Florida, make rain come peacefully and uniformly, calm the storms…why, climate will go back to the way its peacefully always been through all history. All we need is for bureaucrats to be given enough of hard working conservative’s money.

    • Andy Lee Robinson Says:

      If you you’re so hung up about money and would like to become a billionaire, then just charge people a dollar to punch you on the nose.
      The line would stretch from Miami to LA.

      • dumboldguy Says:

        MIke M beat me to it with the one word response—-I was thinking “moron”, which still places Ron in the bottom 2%, but a bit above “idiot”. He IS, after all, an “injuneer” that thinks he’s qualified to comment on climate change.

        PS I’d pay $5 to give him a knee in the crotch and help him make his fortune sooner,

  5. Tom Bates Says:

    Miami does have a water problem, it has zero to do with ocean trends. The ground is subsiding just like New Orleans. Miami has an agency to help mitigate the problem. The problem comes from ground water pumping and diversion of surface flows The sand on which the city is built sinks and the water flows in from the ocean and sits there when it rains. As to the nice graft claiming more rains, that is news to the insurance industry which has paid out less for the last 6 years for weather related claims

    Perhaps the real problem is the words , low lying areas. That means in non developer speak, they built in a swamp as the land was cheap and moved on to the Swiz Chalet leaving the swamp dealers to floods. Since the swamp dwellers blame the politians , the politians glommed onto climate warming and yell for federal money.

    Ocean rise trend itself is 3 to 4 inches in the next 100 years as the world continues to warm out of the little ice age low. Since the arctic is not yet ice free in summer, like it was in 45—6500 BP or nearly so in 1000 AD, we have a way to go.

  6. Tom Bates Says:

    Take look at the temperature graft. No average rise for 90 years or so, than since the early 1990’s a 0.5F jump. When you look at the graft,subtract the RSS and UAH lines put of top of the surface temperatures to make the numbers look higher (1979 to the present). They left out the STAR data as that shows a cooling for decades.

    Since the graft comes from NASA you cannot say it is somehow the product of deniers. What you have is a warm period, mostly from two strong El Ninos, when they go away the warm period will mostly likely go mostly or go away all together.

    You cannot make a prediction of the future on such a short time frame which the precipitation graft is attempting to do. That is just sloppy work, it is not science. It is propaganda.

    Since it is cooler than in 1000 AD, it will most likely continue heating as the earth is warming and has been for hundreds of years from changes in earths tilt and orbit, about 5 percent warmer per NASA models and from increased solar output as measured in various studies. CO2 warming is a lot of educated guesses. One way to measure it is using MODTRAN, google it, if the CO2 doubles from today, it will be 0.67F warmer than today, in about 150 years. CO2 warming in the past has to be a lot smaller as we had less CO2.


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