This is not a report from Chicken Little, the sky isn’t falling but the Mid-Atlantic seaboard is sinking. Weeks prior to the recent federal government shutdown, the EPA announced that the region of the Mid-Atlantic seaboard – from Baltimore, MD to Portsmouth, VA – is experiencing a sea level rise at an average rate of 3.3 millimeters per year. That’s roughly twice the rate of the global average of 1.7 mm/year. Cynics say the pork in Washington is weighing the whole area down.
While some Americans might enjoy envisioning the Capitol building disappearing under three feet of water, the flooding of the Capitol Hill neighborhood is a real possibility. In 2006, when nine inches of rain fell in 24 hours, Constitution Avenue disappeared, the Department of Justice shut down, and IRS headquarters had to close for six months. If Hurricane Sandy had made its way near Virginia Beach instead of Atlantic City, its wind and waves would have piled water into the Chesapeake Bay forcing a massive surge up the Potomac River, inundating low lying areas of the District. There is good news though: so far it has yet to rain frogs.