Since the onslaught of Hurricane Irene in 2011, citizens in the New York area have been put on alert regarding concerns of possible flooding in this area. Low-lying coastal cities, such as New York City, are particularly vulnerable when it comes to major storms, which are predicted to become more powerful with climate change.
New York State has initiated long-term plans to build sea walls and discourage waterside development as a means to decrease future high-water threats, but these preparations are still years and perhaps even decades away.
Climate changes believed to be a result of global warming
Global warming is receiving the credit for the insurgence of flooding along coastal areas and in cities at or near sea level, due to rising waters coupled with intense storms, particularly during hurricane season. Since 1970, the annual average temperature in the Northeast has increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit, with winter temperatures rising twice this much, resulting in many other climate-related changes, including:
More frequent days with temperatures above 90°F
Increased heavy precipitation
Less winter precipitation falling as snow and more as rain
Earlier breakup of winter ice on lakes and rivers
Earlier spring snowmelt resulting in earlier peak river flows
Rising sea surface temperatures and sea level
Furthermore, the Northeast is projected to face continued warming and more extensive climate-related changes, some of which could dramatically alter the region’s economy, landscape, character, and quality of life. The densely populated coasts of the Northeast face substantial increases in the extent and frequency of: storm surge, coastal flooding, erosion, property damage and loss of wetlands.
New York coastal areas considered at higher risk of storm damage
New York alone has more than $2.3 trillion in insured coastal property. Much of this coastline is exceptionally vulnerable to sea-level rise and related impacts.
Rising sea level is projected to increase the frequency and severity of damaging storm surges and flooding. Under a higher emissions scenario, what is now considered a once-in-a-century coastal flood in New York City is projected to occur at least twice as often by mid-century, and 10 times as often (or once per decade on average) by late this century.
With a lower emissions scenario, today’s 100-year flood is projected to occur once every 22 years on average by late this century. Keeping these statistics in mind and with the memory of Hurricane Irene and the extensive damage it caused, ask a local agent about the type of flood insurance available in the various areas throughout New York, and weigh the annual costs against any damages that might be incurred.