Scientists have warned that sea level rise is a slow-motion disaster that will increasingly affect the activities of coastal communities.
One example may come this weekend, as the Fit Team Palm Beaches Marathon’s route runs into potential seasonal king tide flooding.
Daily News Staff Writer William Kelly reports that for the first time in marathon history, a portion of the course is scheduled to run through the Town of Palm Beach in an area that regularly floods during the season’s highest tides.
The town has warned event organizers that, if the marathon comes into Palm Beach and flooding becomes a problem, the runners wil lhave to turn back, Town Manager Tom Bradford said in the Daily News story.
Meteorologists are not expecting this weekend’s tides to rise as high as those in October and November, but they will surpass the average swell and could cause flooding in the most vulnerable areas.
Chris Fisher, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, said the highest tide for Palm Beach is expected Sunday at about 7 a.m.
“It won’t be what we saw a couple months ago,” Fisher said. “We’ve been fairly dry, and the winds will be gusty but not overly strong.”
Robust easterly winds push more water into the Intracoastal and pile it up along the Atlantic beaches, which can exacerbate king tides. The higher tides of fall are caused by summer-warmed waters in the Atlantic expanding, an annual slowing of the Gulf Stream, and correspond with the extra gravitational pull of full and new moons.
December’s full moon reaches its apex Sunday. It is the closest full moon to Earth this year, which will act as another buoy to higher tides.
William Sweet, a NOAA oceanographer who studies tide levels, said tidal flooding will become more commonplace with rising sea levels.
By 2040, South Florida’s streets could experience significant tidal flooding 10 times a year, according to a 2016 study published by the American Meteorological Society.
“The underlying trend is clear and it’s growing in leaps and bounds,” Sweet said in a November interview about the increase so-called “sunny day” flood events. “It’s a building story that doesn’t get that much attention, but this is a disruptive phenomenon.”