Report Says Hundreds of NJ Towns Face Hurricane Flooding Risk

Saturday, December 14, 2019 3:44 PM | Gregory Westfall (Administrator)


Hundreds of NJ communities can now be impacted by hurricanes, a report says – and many of them are not at the Jersey Shore. Find out where.

By Tom Davis, Patch Staff
Nov 19, 2019 11:01 am ET | Updated Nov 19, 2019 12:39 pm ET
Hundreds of NJ communities can now be impacted by hurricanes, a report says – and many of them are not at the Jersey Shore. Find out where.Hundreds of NJ communities can now be impacted by hurricanes, a report says – and many of them are not at the Jersey Shore. Find out where. (YouTube photo/Point Pleasant Dive Team)

NEW JERSEY — A new report released this past week shows climate change is moving at such a rapid pace that the risk of sea-level rise, flooding and hurricane impacts has skyrocketed for hundreds of communities in New Jersey (see maps below).

The research performed by Rutgers University and other collaborators says the tidal flooding risk in New Jersey has more than doubled in 40 years. The nearly six inches of sea-level rise since 1980 has increased the number of current New Jersey homes at risk of frequent flooding by about 110 percent, according to the report.

The risk of hurricane impact is also greatly expanding: The frequency and extent of storm surges have increased since the 1980s, meaning thousands more of today's homes and other structures are now at risk of flooding at least once during a 30-year mortgage, the report says.

"We estimate between 62,000 and 86,000 more homes and commercial properties, worth a combined value of more than $60 billion, now sit in areas with a 1-in-30 chance of hurricane flooding," according to the report from Rhodium Group's Energy & Climate team, as well as other collaborators at the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Chicago and Rutgers.

And the hurricane risk extends beyond the coasts. While New Jersey's coastal communities face the bulk of hurricane-driven flood risk, the potential for wind damage from these storms extends inland, the report says.Subscribe

Four decades ago, the odds that an average New Jersey home outside the state's coastal counties would experience hurricane-force winds in a given year was less than 1-in-200. That has grown to between 1-in-30 and 1-in-100, the report says.

"Exposure to flooding driven by hurricanes and nor'easters is increasing, and this report highlights that wind damage from hurricanes is growing, too. But by integrating climate change and sea-level rise into regional planning, we can reduce the human and economic costs of these changes. And reducing global greenhouse gas emissions can significantly decrease the magnitude of the problem we have to deal with, particularly beyond 2050," Rutgers University–New Brunswick Professor Robert E. Kopp said.

This map shows the increased flooding risk:

This map shows the increased hurricane risk:

There are 27,000 more buildings worth a combined $15 billion that are now likely to flood at least once a year, according to the report.

There are 23,000 more homes and other buildings worth a combined $13 billion at risk of frequent flooding in 2019 than if sea levels had remained at 1980s levels, according to the report.

Related: Report Shows How At Least 19 NJ Towns 'Soon' Could Be Under Water

Here's what "New Jersey's Rising Coastal Risk" also says:

  • Rising coastal risk carries significant economic costs: "We estimate that the expected average annual loss to New Jersey from hurricane-related wind and flood damage today is likely $670 million to $1.3 billion higher than it would have been if sea levels and hurricane activity in the 1980s remained constant."
  • New Jersey's exposure is projected to grow: It is likely that, by mid-century, an additional 33,000 to 58,000 buildings in the state will flood frequently. An additional 73,000 to 113,000 buildings worth a combined $60 to $96 billion will likely be in the 1-in-30-year floodplain by 2050. Average annual hurricane wind and flood damage in the state will likely grow by $1.3 to $3.1 billion.
  • Resilience investments can reduce current and future risk: "These projections are not foregone conclusions. Future reductions in global emissions would substantially reduce these hazards in the second half of the century, but that alone will not be enough. Vulnerable communities can better prepare for floods and storm damage by linking planning, mitigation, and adaptation. Zoning can guide development away from at-risk areas. Existing structures can be protected through retrofitting."

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