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In an increasing number of communities along the Massachusetts coast, erosion and flooding are causing damage even during minor storms. As a coastal property owner, assessing your property’s vulnerability to storm waves and flooding can greatly enhance your ability to address these and other storm damage problems. CZM's StormSmart Coasts program has assembled the following information on this topic, organized into the following categories:
The loss (erosion) and gain (accretion) of coastal land is a visible result of the way shorelines are reshaped by dynamic coastal conditions. To help make informed and responsible decisions, shorefront landowners need information on both current and historical shoreline trends, including reliable measurements of erosion and accretion rates.
As part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) produces Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) to show the areas that are predicted to flood in a storm event having a 1% chance of occurring in a given year (also called the 100-year storm). FIRMs are typically available for viewing at your Town Hall and online through FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center. These online resources can help homeowners understand the NFIP and how to read the FIRMs:
Storm surge is the rise in water level caused by a severe storm, such as a hurricane or northeaster. The advancing surge combined with wind and normal tides increases the effective sea level and can create extensive storm damage. Coastal inundation is the flooding of normally dry, low-lying coastal land, primarily caused by severe weather events along the coast, estuaries, and adjoining rivers. See the following links for information on the potential impacts of storm surge and coastal inundation on the coast:
Sea level rise refers to the increase in mean sea level over time. Sea level has been rising in Massachusetts for thousands of years since the retreat of the last glaciers over 20,000 years ago. During the last century, tide gauges and satellites indicate an acceleration of sea level rise relative to the past rate. For more information on current trends and potential future change in sea level, see the following:
Coastal property owners likely to be impacted by storms, waves, tides, and wind can keep informed of current coastal conditions and predicted storms. For links to storm-related information, see these two CZ-Tips: