Blue-Sky Floods Take a Rising Toll for Businesses

Flooded plain

Researchers find downtown businesses lost nearly 2% of 2017 visits to rainless inundation.

March 4, 2019
Eric Roston - Bloomberg

When American colonists planned downtown Annapolis, Maryland in 1695, they wanted easy access to the sea. Almost 325 years later, the sea is now closer than ever. It’s so close, in fact, that 16 small businesses lost roughly 2 percent of their revenue in 2017.

In a first-of-its-kind study, Stanford University and Naval Academy researchers looked at the effect of sea-level rise on a single city-block. Specifically, they examined sunny-day floods—inundation that occurs when infrastructure built for lower waters is no longer sufficient to keep back the highest tides—at a central parking lot at City Dock.

As sea levels rise, these “nuisance floods” are becoming more common. From the 1950s to the early 2000s, the days of flooding in the 27 most vulnerable cities across the U.S. grew from two per year to nearly 12.



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