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12/18/2013 - Smaller storms as powerful as Sandy


With a greater likelihood of flooding, families may be more inclined to purchase flood insurance.

The sheer size and magnitude of Hurricane Sandy made it one of the more impactful storms in U.S. history. But according to new research from Tufts University, moving forward, weather disturbances that are on a much smaller scale may unleash the same kind of punch that the late-October 2012 superstorm did.

That's based on the analysis of Andrew Kemp, a geologist at the Boston-based Tufts University. He and his team of researchers came to this conclusion after studying salt-marsh sediments from Barnegat Bay in New Jersey. Through the use of a special tool that enabled them to analyze what sea levels were like in that area back in the late-1700s, they discovered that water levels had changed appreciably over the past 200-plus years, operating much higher today than they used to.

"Rising sea levels exacerbate flooding," said Kemp. "As sea level rises, smaller and weaker storms will cause flood damage."

Because of this, Kemp believes that storms with less rain and wind could be just as impactful as Sandy was. As an example, he compared the scenario to what would happen in professional basketball if the NBA were to raise the level of the court so that shorter people could dunk the ball.

"It makes low lying property and infrastructure more vulnerable at a time when developers are pumping money into coastal cities and towns," said Kemp.

With a greater likelihood of flooding, families may be more inclined to purchase flood insurance. Recently, legislators in Massachusetts proposed a bill that would cap flood insurance rates in the Bay State, preventing mortgage lenders from demanding coverage that's excessive. Attorney General Martha Coakley noted that this move should help homeowners and businesses save money, while at the same time protecting their investments.


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