Virginia's Hampton Roads comes in third -- behind New Orleans and Houston -- for vulnerability to sea level rise.In Hampton Roads, like coastal communities all over the world, the tides are coming in. Sea levels are rising. Tidal flooding is increasing. Ten years ago this month, Senator Tim Kaine testified to a U.S. Senate committee on the effects of climate change on the Chesapeake Bay. The then-governor stated that Hampton Roads “is the largest population center that is at the greatest risk from sea level rise outside of New Orleans.” It's a big issue for him even today as a U.S. senator. A 2014 fact sheet from the World Resources Institute agreed. The New Orleans area came in as No. 1, with levels rising at a rate of about three feet per century. Hampton Roads came in second, but the report left out Galveston, Texas (believing it to be a smaller metro area), where relative sea levels have been rising even faster than in Hampton Roads.
Like in New Orleans and Houston, Hampton Roads' land is sinking as fast as or even faster than the ocean is rising to the coastal doorstep. As the earth warms and more and more of its ice melts, global sea levels will rise even faster. On November 5, the high tide in Hampton Roads is expected to be (and almost certainly will be) higher than usual. At Sewells Point, for example, the tide will be 3.42 feet above what’s known as "mean lower low water,” which is the average height of the lowest tide recorded at a tide station each day during the recording period. But weather variables (especially how hard the wind is blowing and in what direction) will determine whether the tide goes above or below predicted levels. What the outcome and effects of this rise are, however, we will just have to wait and see. What do you think about the rising sea level? Tell us in the comments below!