South Florida Flooded by Historic Rainstorm, Struggles to Adapt to Climate Challenges (The Atlantic)

South Florida Flooded by Historic Rainstorm, Struggles to Adapt to Climate Challenges

Tuesday, June 18th, 2024 Catastrophe Legislation & Regulation Property Risk Management

Last Wednesday, a frightening experience was shared by thousands across South Florida as about a foot and a half of rain fell, caused by a storm system dubbed Invest 90L. This extreme weather event, which meteorologists are calling a once-in-200-years occurrence, marks the fourth massive rainfall in southeastern Florida in recent years.

Invest 90L is a product of climate change, with warmer air holding more moisture. Greater Miami, built on a drained swamp and porous limestone, faces rising sea levels with forecasts predicting nearly 11 inches of sea-level rise by 2040. Sunny-day flooding has increased dramatically, and a significant hurricane could displace up to 1 million people. Despite billions spent on infrastructure improvements, the region’s capacity to handle such extreme weather remains insufficient.

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) manages a vast canal system for drainage, but sea-level rise is reducing its effectiveness. Miami has installed pumps and backflow valves, and Miami Beach has invested in raising roads and improving infrastructure. However, the rainstorm’s intensity was beyond what current systems can handle. Governor Ron DeSantis’ $1.8 billion Resilient Florida Program aims to help communities adapt, yet policies often ignore the root causes of climate change. Experts warn that without addressing these causes, the region may eventually face unavoidable retreat from low-lying areas.

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External References & Further Reading

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