Publication Date November 4, 2021 | CNN

A major coastal flood event, similar to a surge from a hurricane, is underway in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, SC
Flooding in Charleston, SC on November 4, 2021 (Credit: Charleston Fire Department)
Flooding in Charleston, SC on November 4, 2021 (Credit: Charleston Fire Department)

Climate Signals summary: Onshore winds and high tides working in tandem with abnormally high sea levels due to climate change, are leading to the threat of significant coastal flooding in Charleston, SC.

Article excerpt: 

A potentially historic flood event is taking shape across Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, and portions of coastal Georgia, including near Savannah, as water levels will be at heights usually found in powerful hurricanes.

The flooding will be exacerbated by a destructive combination of already higher-than-normal tides and a developing storm system, sending tide levels levels above 8 feet for Charleston and above 10.5 feet near Savannah, signaling major flood stage along the coast.

Flooding of this magnitude has historically been reserved for the massive surge that comes with tropical systems, but in a warming world with rising seas, the tides are turning, both metaphorically and literally.

"Long-term sea level rise from rising global and ocean temperatures resulting from climate change makes coastal flooding events like this happen more frequently, with worsening impacts from higher floods," said Brandon Miller, CNN meteorologist and climate crisis beat leader. "Sea levels have risen nearly a foot since the beginning of the 1900's, which raises the baseline from which these floods occur -- pushing nuisance floods from storms into record territories that used to only come in the strongest storms such as hurricanes."

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