Tampa Bay Most At Risk Of Repeated Flooding, Says Climate Scientist

Jul 13, 2018
Originally published on July 24, 2018 12:20 pm

As sea levels continue to rise in Florida, repeated flooding and storm surge are major concerns for Tampa Bay.

David Hastings, a climate scientist at Eckerd College, said the region could experience some of the most severe effects of climate change. He told the civic group Cafe Con Tampa on Friday that in the next 30 years, sixty-five thousand homes in Florida will flood twice a month affecting 100,000 Florida residents.

"We're predicting that there's going to be chronic inundation in many, many homes in Florida and the Tampa-St. Petersburg area is one of the hotspots for that chronic inundation," Hastings said.

Hurricanes and storm surge will become more intense as the ocean warms and sea levels rise in Florida. Hastings said water from warmer oceans will evaporate, creating more energy in the atmosphere and resulting in more severe hurricanes.

While people think hurricane winds cause the most damage, he said storm surge is the bigger concern for residents in Tampa Bay. 

"If we don't do anything, if we carry on as business as usual, then we're going to see storm surge of almost two feet in the next mortgage cycle, about 30 years, and up to six feet in the next 70 years," he said.

Yvette Arellano, an activist for Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services in Houston, said Tampa Bay can experience damage similar to what Houston endured from Hurricane Harvey last year.

"Houston got hit by one of the largest storms in recorded history. I would say it is very comparable to something that could happen here," Arellano said.  

Tampa Bay tops the list of U.S. cities most vulnerable to the effects of sea level rise, because of the shallow land off Florida's west coast. Hastings said four other Florida cities join Tampa Bay in the top 10.

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