Old ways of thinking about Delaware River Basin flooding no longer apply

By Chris Mele | May 1, 2023
For Delaware Currents

The last record-setting floods in the Delaware River Basin are inadequate baselines to prepare for the extreme weather to come as the old rules of resiliency planning no longer apply in a time of climate change, a keynote speaker at a forum on flooding said on Friday.

Planners have to expect inundation that is 15 to 25 percent greater than the last record-breaking floods, said the speaker, Glenn Schwartz, who retired last year as chief meteorologist for WCAU-TV in Philadelphia after a lengthy career.

Schwartz offered a sobering assessment of floods to come and the effects of climate change at the conference, sponsored by the Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin.

In a presentation that included photos from the catastrophic fatal flooding that was wrought by back-to-back Hurricanes Connie and Diane in 1955, Schwartz said the Delaware River Basin had not seen flooding like that in decades. And then came so-called once-in-one-hundred-year-floods that struck in three consecutive years: 2004, 2005 and 2006.

People will wake up to climate change at different times and have their “a-ha” or “uh-oh” moments after they have experienced it firsthand in the form of flooding or devastation brought by extreme weather, he said.

“That will convince you more than any book or article you will read,” he said.

That climate change is real and manmade and that temperatures and sea levels are rising is no longer in dispute. “It’s just a fact – one-hundred-point-zero percent,” he said. “It’s as sure as gravity.”

For the full story, visit Delaware Currents here.

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