February 26, 2024



Not all extreme weather events can be tied to climate change, and some of them have always taken place. However, some severe weather can be traced back to or enhanced by climate change. The recent record flooding in Portland, Maine was one of those events. Despite the storm not being particularly strong meteorologically, the all-time water level record was broken due to an astronomically high tide and sea level rise. Global sea level rise from 1978 to 2020 was 125 mm (4.9 inches), which correlates well with the record water level on Saturday. The previous record was beaten by 4.8 inches, indicating a clear impact of climate change on the storm. The storm was not intense, and wind gusts during the high tide were only 30-35 mph. Therefore, we wouldn’t have broken the all-time water level record if it weren’t for sea level rise. For comparison, Winter Storm Nemo, which brought Portland its all-time snowfall record in February 2013, had a stronger central pressure than the recent storm. However, in this case, the effect of climate change was evident in the record-breaking water level.



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