When it rains – it pours.
And when it pours – Annapolis floods!
|Trees and Roads Flooding in Annapolis - Source: Capital Gazette|
While it’s no exaggeration, Annapolis, Maryland is especially susceptible to ‘nuisance’ floods and flash floods given its low-lying coastal location at the mouth of the Severn River, Annapolis Harbor and Spa Creek. This spawns issues with roadways, fallen trees, structural issues and shoreline erosion. Flooding in Annapolis isn’t new. In fact, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) notes that Annapolis, as well as some other key coastal cities, can expect 30 days of flooding every year due to rising sea levels.
By the numbers
Annapolis averaged 3.8 days a year with nuisance flooding between 1957 and 1963. Between 2007 and 2013, Annapolis averaged 39.3 of those days a year – a sobering increase of more than 900 percent. Additionally, the NOAA compared data from 2007-2013 with 1957-1963 and showed that the mean sea level had risen about 3.6 millimeters in Annapolis each year, compared to just 3.25 millimeters in Baltimore. Other cities that saw increases in sea levels were Atlantic City and Sandy Hook (NJ), Philadelphia (PA), Port Isabel (TX), Charleston (SC), Washington D.C., San Francisco (CA, and Norfolk (VA).
The 2013 report went so far as to make recommendations from scientists to urge Maryland to plan for sea level rise of up to 2 feet in the next 40 years which prompted city officials to urge coastal communities to adjust building codes and zoning laws. Part of the battle is underway as the city committed $7.5 million to build a new bulkhead around Ego Alley but plenty of more work will be needed coming out of the 2016, $100,000 study. Remedies will include back-flow preventers in the pipes that carry storm water away from the area, providing the biggest benefits to local business that suffer during heavy flooding, as well as the historic buildings that are central to Annapolis’ character and charm. This doesn't include the costs from emergency tree removal services the city bares from companies that are continually on call.
While Annapolis isn't projected to experience the nation's highest sea level rise in the next 30 years – it will see water rise by 5.5 inches by 2030 and 12 inches by 2045, according to the 2014 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Through the careful collaboration between the U.S. Naval Academy, NOAA, cooperating local and national officials and scientists, the nuisance will continue but hopefully be better managed. It will be a process of watching the landscape of Annapolis change and working with engineers, arborists and county officials to ensure that the wide range of issues, such as falling trees, shoreline erosion, and building foundations are watch closely.