No, Roanoke Times, Climate Change Is Not To Blame for Virginia Beach’s Flooding

Reposted from ClimateREALISM

By H. Sterling Burnett

A Google news search of the term “climate change” turns up a recent story in the Roanoke Times claiming human caused climate change is causing increased incidences of flooding in Virginia Beach, Virginia. This is false. Flooding may be worsening in Virginia Beach, and human activities may be contributing to it, but research indicates a climate change induced increase in the rate of sea level rise is not to blame.

A story, titled “Virginia Beach confronts inescapable costs of rising seas,” discusses a $568 million bond issue being proposed to improve infrastructure and lessen future damage from flooding in the region. If voter don’t approve the bond, the story warns “the city could lose billions of dollars in the next half-century as recurrent flooding inundates roads, businesses and homes.”

The Roanoke Times the proceeds to incorrectly attribute the danger of recurrent future flooding in Virginia Beach to climate change induced rising seas.

“The referendum underscores the mounting costs of adapting to climate change for U.S. cities,” writes the Roanoke Times. “The need for money to protect communities against climate change is growing across the globe ….”

Data show seas are not rising at an unusual rate in the Chesapeake Bay region where Virginia Beach is located.

As discussed in a recent Climate Realism article, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has maintained a tidal gauge at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk since the 1920s. The tidal records, as shown in the NOAA graph below, show the pace of sea-level rise remains the same now as it was 100 years ago – when there was minimal human-emitted carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

NOAA has maintained three other tidal gauges in the Norfolk region, dating back to the 1930s, 1950s, and 1970s, respectively. None of the other three show any acceleration, either.

Each of these tide gauges is within 30 miles of Virginia Beach and none show unusual rates of sea level rise or an increasing rate in recent decades.

To the extent flooding has increased in the Chesapeake Bay region and Virginia Beach in particular, research shows it is due to localized land subsidence. According to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report, titled “Land Subsidence and Relative Sea-Level Rise in the Southern Chesapeake Bay Region,” states:

Land subsidence has been observed since the 1940s in the southern Chesapeake Bay region at rates of 1.1 to 4.8 millimeters per year (mm/yr), and subsidence continues today.

This land subsidence helps explain why the region has the highest rates of sea-level rise on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Data indicate that land subsidence has been responsible for more than half the relative sea-level rise measured in the region. Land subsidence increases the risk of flooding in low-lying areas, which in turn has important economic, environmental, and human health consequences for the heavily populated and ecologically important southern Chesapeake Bay region.

The aquifer system in the region has been compacted by extensive groundwater pumping in the region at rates of 1.5- to 3.7-mm/yr; this compaction accounts for more than half of observed land subsidence in the region.

The proposed bond issue may be needed to prevent increased incidences of flooding in Virginia Beach, but it will only work to prevent flooding if the “fixes” funded by it focus on the right causes of the problem. Local water withdrawals, wetlands conversion, and land compaction are to blame for Virginia Beach’s flooding woes, not climate change. Better land and water management, not fossil fuel use restrictions, are needed to reduce the incidences of homes and businesses in Virginia Beach flooding.

H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is managing editor of Environment & Climate News and a research fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute. Burnett worked at the National Center for Policy Analysis for 18 years, most recently as a senior fellow in charge of NCPA’s environmental policy program. He has held various positions in professional and public policy organizations, including serving as a member of the Environment and Natural Resources Task Force in the Texas Comptroller’s e-Texas commission.

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Gregory Woods
November 7, 2021 2:53 am

As they say: Fools will be ignorant…

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  Gregory Woods
November 7, 2021 2:59 am

You can’t fix stupid ignorance (not without a proper education).

Bill Powers
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
November 7, 2021 10:42 am

To your point Phillip, The operative word being “proper” what they dish up today is Indoctrination rather than education..

Not so much that these people are ignorant, they are brainwashed and triggered to swarming hive action by the media narrative as fed them from the Post Modernist pseudo intellectuals on the college campuses with degree programs in such nonsense as Urban or Women studies/

Reply to  Bill Powers
November 8, 2021 6:05 am

Didn’t Reagan cover this pretty well when he said “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.”

Reply to  Gregory Woods
November 7, 2021 6:18 am

when you cherry pick from 2000 to now….you get acceleration

…the fools are not the ones doing it…..they are the ones falling for it

willem post
November 7, 2021 2:56 am

The western half of the Netherlands is up to SIX METERS below sea level.

I grew up near Rotterdam, which is about 6 meter beneath sea level.

The land is subsiding. All buildings are built on concrete piles.

After the flood of 1953, the Dutch decided to build the DELTA waterworks.

It took 6 decades to complete.

Pumping stations control the water level to within a few inches, no matter how hard it rains.

Virginia should not build anything in areas subject flooding, on stilts or not.

Reply to  willem post
November 7, 2021 5:38 am

And avoid New Orleans political do-nothing Levee Boards also

November 7, 2021 3:14 am

“451: Unavailable due to legal reasons”

I’d like to think that’s because the story is a load of old codswallop – and it most certainly is.

Reply to  fretslider
November 7, 2021 4:07 am

A down vote?

Would you care to speak up and tell me why I’m wrong?

November 7, 2021 3:19 am

“Local water withdrawals, wetlands conversion, and land compaction are to blame for Virginia Beach’s flooding woes, not climate change. Better land and water management, not fossil fuel use restrictions, are needed to reduce the incidences of homes and businesses in Virginia Beach flooding.” – article

Um…. whatt?? Use common sense?

Not so very long ago – 2 winters, in fact – Lake Michi Gamu was so full of water that instead of remaining quiet and placid in the winter, and politely freezing along the shoreline areas, the lake went on a rampage. Part of it was high winds from the north and northwest, and part of it was increased precipitation starting early in the fall. As a result, not only did tributaries like the Des Plaines River feed into that excess water load, but anything along the lake shores that had a water overload went into the overload, and the lake was rough, rising up onto the beach-side lawns of people who had homes along those beaches. To be blunt, their living rooms were flooded up to about TWO FEET of extra water. The Army Corps of Engineers did what they could to stop the damage.

But whatever wasn’t in that giant lake went into rivers elsewhere and the AC of E guys were out bolstering the banks of the lake and Ole Miss, to prevent the kind of disaster that happened in 1997. You all remember that one, don’t you? Levees flooding, dikes bursting, flooding inland where the water would normally go if it weren’t blocked. Yeah, that was interesting, to say the least.

If Virginia Beach is subsiding and becoming flooded, it has not hing to do with climate change and EVERYTHING to do with human foolishness and lack of awareness. Hoomans need to learn to have a little more respect for Mother Nature and stop making silly excuses for their mistakes.

Thanks for the article.

Last edited 10 months ago by Sara
Richard Page
Reply to  Sara
November 7, 2021 6:32 am

I was trying to find out when the last series of flood defences were put in place in that area. Instead of finding that information I kept finding articles and studies on how flood defences were just too expensive and cheaper alternatives would be a far better way forward. I guess they found out the hard way where those cheaper alternatives have landed them.

Reply to  Richard Page
November 7, 2021 10:54 am

It must be like buying a cheap used car: beware the sales hype. The car may be a lemon. (No offense mean to lemons in general.)

November 7, 2021 3:22 am

I live near Roanoke…. Unsubscribed from the Roanoke Slimes years ago due to the pathetic and persistent Progressive bias of that pitiful rag.

Patrick Kavanaugh
Reply to  FreemenRtrue
November 17, 2021 12:49 pm

I grew up near Roanoke. The paper has been a pitiful excuse for a ‘news’ outlet for at least 50 years.

Ron Long
November 7, 2021 3:52 am

The additional problem, regarding relative sea level, is that both the North and South American Tectonic Plates are rising on the west side and going down on the east side. The plates have a passive eastern margin and an active, to include subduction and magma inflation, western margin. Argentina is a good example, with Aconcagua on the western margin at about 24,000 feet above sea level and the Grand Bajo de San Julien, about 20 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern side, at about 350 feet below sea level (both are western hemisphere records). Sure, there are additional factors, but the generality is true.

Patrick Kavanaugh
Reply to  Ron Long
November 17, 2021 12:52 pm

The problem in the tidewater region has more to do with the fact that the entire Hampton Roads area is a massive impact crater that is still slowly subsiding and slipping. Not to mention the general surface level subsidence due to groundwater extraction that is a more localized phenomenon.

Stephen Haner
November 7, 2021 4:17 am

Well, actually that is an Associated Press story that probably ran in a large number of Virginia papers. Every reporter I’ve ever talked to has completely absorbed the Climate Catastrophe Narrative and thinks I’m the one who is nuts.

Reply to  Stephen Haner
November 7, 2021 4:57 am

If you have been talking to reporters you are nuts!

Reply to  Stephen Haner
November 7, 2021 6:27 am

Yes, it ran in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach Virginian-Pilot, too.

CD in Wisconsin
November 7, 2021 5:24 am

“The aquifer system in the region has been compacted by extensive groundwater pumping in the region at rates of 1.5- to 3.7-mm/yr; this compaction accounts for more than half of observed land subsidence in the region.”


If ground water extraction is responsible for some of the land subsidence in Virginia Beach and the Chesapeake Bay area, I will suggest that they need to look at the possibility of building desalination plants for their fresh water needs.

Congress just approved that $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. If some of that money is to go to water infrastructural upgrades and improvements, then VA Beach and the Chesapeake Bay area should use some or all of their share of it for this purpose.

Blaming the flooding on rising sea levels from climate change serves to demonstrate the ignorance of looking at the wrong issue for the source of their problems. A ground compaction rate of 1.5 to 3.7 mm/yr can really start to add up over time (decades) if it is ignored.

“On average there are 50 to 75 significant desalination projects per year in the United States with an average capacity of approximately 1 million gal per day. The majority of these projects utilize membrane processes such as nanofiltration (NF) or reverse osmosis (RO).”

Stop pumping water out of the ground.

Andy Pattullo
Reply to  CD in Wisconsin
November 7, 2021 9:04 am

I agree. Building desalination plants is a proven strategy for increasing precipitation and filling reservoirs. Just ask Australia.

November 7, 2021 5:36 am

High tides and storm surges, both are so baffling to leftarded morons.

November 7, 2021 5:36 am

Thank you. This is important not just for WUWT readers interest but also to blunt money grabs for erroneous climate change flooding “Superstorm” Sandy style.

Climate believer
November 7, 2021 5:56 am

Apart from the fact that Bubba’s restaurant is actually built in the sea, it’s hardly surprising that the sea will sometimes come knocking at the door, especially during a hurricane.

To believe that this is due to a change in climate is beyond dumb.

Bubbas resto.png
Reply to  Climate believer
November 7, 2021 6:32 am

I’ve been there, it is just up the road from me. Only thing I saw rising was the food prices. 🙂

November 7, 2021 7:30 am

King tides, king tides coupled with coastal storms cause most of the flooding.

“Twice a month during the full and new moons, tides rise higher as the sun, moon and Earth align. Those are called spring tides. But twice a year — in the spring and fall — spring tides become king tides when the Earth’s northern hemisphere is closest to the sun. The fall king tides are more extreme…King tides are a worldwide, naturally occurring phenomenon made worse by climate change and sea level rise — though not caused by either.”

If you live near the coasts you quickly become aware of the impact of wind direction, duration and strength on tide heights couple these winds with natural Spring and Fall king tides and voila flooding.

Compound these events with natural subsidence and flooding gets both higher and more frequent. Wind direction and strength can be enough to cause them.

Overwhelmingly the causes for these coastal floods are natural. Stopping astronomical movement, subsidence and wind blowing or building sea walls will stop and/or seriously diminish the flooding. TEMPORARILY.

Last edited 10 months ago by CoRev
Reply to  CoRev
November 7, 2021 8:53 am

CoRev: Stopping astronomical movement, subsidence and wind blowing or building sea walls will stop and/or seriously diminish the flooding. TEMPORARILY.”

Another glaciation would eliminate the flooding for a geologically temporary 100,000 years.

But that wouldn’t be my first choice to temporarily halt the flooding. 😜

Andy Pattullo
November 7, 2021 8:59 am

So 4mm rise in relative sea level locally per year, 4cm per decade or about 15 inches in a hundred years. 15 inches – 100 years. How is this an emergency? And we know most of the change is land subsidence, not the rise int he oceans predicted by useless, always wrong global climate models. So do the sane thing and plan for a gradual rise in the level of water near the shores. Don’t plan for Armageddon and in so doing ruing the lives of everyone.

November 7, 2021 8:59 am

The City of Norfolk built a flood wall barrier on the Elizabeth River in the 1960’s. This is in an area that is mostly landfill, having been reclaimed from the river. I have lived in the areas since 1971 and flooding, particularly during Northeasters when the waters of the Chesapeake Bay get pushed back into the tributaries, has been a constant since at least since then. As regards Virginia Beach, I have lived within 300 yards of the Atlantic high tide for 40 years with no noticeable increase in sea rise.

John Hultquist
November 7, 2021 9:56 am

Virginia Beach: about 5 to 8 feet above sea level;
Windsor (40 miles west): about 75 feet above sea level.
I’d move.

November 7, 2021 11:14 am

Here’s the byline on the article “BEN FINLEY Associated Press

Propaganda brought to you by the AP.

Makes griff and co look like geniuses.

November 7, 2021 11:39 am

The caption of the 2012 photo in the article says Virginia Beach has already approved the 568 million bond issue to build seawalls to save their town. The article says San Frncisco and Houston have already approved similar bond issues to save their towns too.

I’m promoting a bond issue to save my town from future meteor impacts. When saving towns from the horrors of certain future events, one cannot be too careful when planning for the future.

Chuck no longer in Houston
Reply to  Doonman
November 8, 2021 2:27 pm

Houston regional taxpayers will be buying a barrier for ~$26B. There is a bit of controversy as the build will have a pretty big impact on the barrier islands – Bolivar especially. And it might not even work if built.

Oh, and that entire portion of the gulf coast is subsiding big time, partly due to the silted effluent of the Mississippi and to the water and hydrocarbon extraction.

Last edited 10 months ago by Chuck no longer in Houston
November 7, 2021 11:53 am

According to OP, the rate of sea level hasn’t changed over the past 100 years in Virginia Beach. The OP shows several plots with linear fits. But he does not show the 50 year trends from the same website. For example,comment image (the longest of the 4 sea level records highlighted by the OP) shows that the most recent 50-year rate of sea level rise was 5.38 mm/yr, compared to 4.73 mm/yr for the entire period, or 3.65 mm/yr for the slowest 50 year period in the record (centered around 1970).

Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 7, 2021 12:00 pm

I am familiar with the east coast from New Jersey on down to the Florida Keys. Most of it is subsiding but particularly Delaware, Maryland, and the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area. There is a rather large meteorite crater just to the east of Norfolk in the Chesapeake Bay. And the amount of fill dredged out of the formerly-shallow Bay has been steadily compacting under the heavy load of the Navy docks and construction. SLR is negligible in this area, the subsidence is much greater.

Climate believer
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
November 7, 2021 1:04 pm

An image from this study:

showing the crater size.

Chesapeake bay impact area.png
John Robertson
November 7, 2021 8:16 pm

There is a similar post today from NPR about an island community south of Charleston that is suffering the effects of SLR from climate change. Not one word about subsidence. The delta and salt marshes there have gradually been subsiding for a long time as a result of natural processes. A google search will bring that right up.
I think leaving that factoid out is not responsible journalism. I just noticed a setting on my phone under Google news that says “block all articles from NPR”…

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