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Massive October King Tide Gives Miami Another Taste of Climate Change

NORTH MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 14:  Yaneisy Duenas (L) and Ferando Sanudo walk through the flooded parking lot to their boat at the Haulover Marine Center on November 14, 2016 in North Miami, Florida. The flood waters are caused by the combination of the lunar orbit which causes seasonal high tides, also known as a King tide, and what some scientists believe is rising sea levels due to climate change.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Last year’s November king tide in North Miami.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A month after Hurricane Irma, the Atlantic Ocean is back in the streets of South Florida.

This time it’s thanks to a king tide, the “sunny-day” flooding that offers American beach communities from Virginia to Florida an annual preview of sea level rise.

“Barring major changes, this is the new normal in Miami,” Jerry Ianelli writes for the Miami New Times:

The dire, city-sinking-into-Atlantis warnings that countless scientists and major magazines have predicted is not coming in the future — it’s already here, and city officials are struggling to react. The same areas of the county that flooded today were also inundated when the remnants of Tropical Storm Emily hit in August.

King tides are determined by the orbits and alignments of the Earth, moon and sun. In South Florida, they occur each fall, but in recent years they’ve gotten increasingly dramatic. In Miami Beach, flooding from high tides soared 400 percent between 2006 and 2016, University of Miami researchers found.

Earlier this year, Miami Beach initiated $100 million in spending to raise roads, redesign sewers and install pumps to keep the tidal impact in check. Across Biscayne Bay, Miami will vote in November on whether to approve Mayor Tomás Regalado’s “Miami Forever” bond issue, a $400-million tax increase that includes nearly $200 million for seawalls and drainage pumps, in addition to money for housing and economic development.

Today is helping to make Regalado’s case, and he knows it.

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