NOAA studies impacts of sea level rise on our coastal counties

Local residents can visualize sea level rise exposure with a snapshot look at Grays Harbor and Pacific counties through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

As rising sea levels are increasing the impacts of high tide flooding and storm surge events in local areas, NOAA recommends that local communities incorporate the data into all community planning strategies. 

Among the Grays Harbor snapshot, it shows that 8.1%, or 5,809 people, live within the low-lying areas that would be impacted with two feet of sea level rise. 

According to the data, there are zero schools, police or fire stations, or medical facilities that are below that two foot rise level, although five schools are among the four foot rise level.

2.2% of Grays Harbor County’s businesses are within those same low-lying areas, according to the snapshot. As is already the case in many parts of the country, these areas are the first to experience impacts.

Pacific County features 5.9% of residents below the two foot mark, 0.3% of businesses, and 0% of the critical services.

Based on projections for the Toke Point, WA tide gauge, sea level rise could continue to grow and consistently rise above that two foot threshold within the next 50 years.

The project is within the Flood Series as part of the NOAA Digital Coast Tool, which also features data on Economy and Special Flood Hazards.

In the Total Coastal Economy section, it states that 917 Grays Harbor businesses could be affected by current flooding within the 100-year floodplain, or 1,142 with a six foot rise. In Pacific, that could mean 10 businesses within the floodplain, or 275 in a six foot rise.

Within the Marine Economy series, it shows that 12% of Grays Harbor and 28% of Pacific employment is connected to the local marine economy.