Flooding & Groundwater

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists says hundreds of coastal Superfund sites – including several in New Hampshire – face new risks of flooding due to climate change.

The analysis looked at federal toxic waste sites within 25 miles of the East and Gulf Coasts, and found that New Jersey, Florida and New York have the most sites at risk of extreme flooding. Many are concentrated along the I-95 corridor. 

CSPAN

To kick off NHPR's new reporting project By Degrees, we're unpacking the basics of how climate change is already affecting life in New Hampshire, and how the state is contributing to and responding to the problem. 

Rachel Cleetus is the policy director for the Union of Concerned Scientists' Climate and Energy Program, based in Massachusetts.

First Street Foundation

A major new study says federal flood maps have far underestimated how many properties in New Hampshire and nationwide are at risk from substantial flooding, now and in the coming decades.

The report, out Monday, comes from a range of academic institutions and the nonprofit First Street Foundation.

State regulators are monitoring how this winter’s low snowpack could affect water supplies in the dry summer months.

The state has between 60 and 75 percent less snow on the ground than average right now. State water division director Tom O’Donovan says that's just one source of the state’s drinking water and other water supplies – in reservoirs, lakes and wells.

Kim Reed / UNH

State officials are using federal money to look at how rising seas will threaten major highways and connecting routes on the Seacoast.

The project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will build a "vulnerability assessment" for the I-95, Route 1 and Route 1A corridors, and local connector roads, including Routes 101 and 286.

Courtesy Kelly Trinkle

The seasonal attraction called Ice Castles allows visitors to explore a landscape straight out of the movie Frozen. Open for just a few months on a former farm in the White Mountain town of North Woodstock, N.H., the massive ice installations draw adults and kids alike to a world of sub-zero architecture.

But last spring, as the temperatures rose, a neighbor’s basement looked more like the set of Waterworld, prompting a lawsuit against Ice Castles for allegedly failing to control the runoff from its property.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Unusually high king tides on parts of the Seacoast may cause flooding in the next few days.

The colloquial term refers to unusually high tides, over 10 feet on the Seacoast.  A series of those high tides are forecast through Wednesday. This can cause minor flooding on streets that border tidal areas, in towns like Hampton.

On Sunday, the beach town was also hit with rain and gusty winds. The tide inundated the back marsh of Hampton Beach, pushing some low-level flooding onto some streets.

Joanne Glode / Nature Conservancy

New Hampshire’s coastal towns are beginning to think about adapting to climate change. It’ll mean finding new ways to protect critical pieces of infrastructure from rising seas, heavier rains and stronger storms.

NHPR’s Annie Ropeik has this story of the lessons from a major road project in Newmarket that’s one of the first in the state to focus on climate resilience.


Courtesy DOROTHY HEINRICHS | ORANGENH.US

President Trump has approved a major disaster declaration for Grafton County. Last month, severe rains and flash flooding caused significant road damage.

Federal, state and local officials estimate it cost $2.9 million dollars to respond to the flooding.

Ten communities had their infrastructure affected by the storm, including the town of Orange, which had an estimated $900,000 in damages.

“It’s a tremendous difference to our tiny town,” said Dorothy Heinrichs, chair of the town select board.

Courtesy DOROTHY HEINRICHS | ORANGENH.US

Governor Chris Sununu is asking for a federal disaster declaration after heavy rainfall caused flood damage in Grafton County last month.

Sununu's letter to President Donald Trump says the storm on July 11 and 12 dumped inches of rain on several communities.

Crews had to rescue some campers and homeowners from the floodwaters. The rain caused severe damage to dozens of roads, culverts and snowmobile trails... including at Cardigan Mountain State Park.

Courtesy photo Dorothy Heinrichs | orangenh.us

Heavy rains last Thursday in Grafton County caused an estimated $1 million in damages in the towns of Orange and Canaan.

Dorothy Heinrichs is the chair of the Orange select board.

"The town of Orange since, it’s so small, only has 12 miles of town roads. And we suffered an estimated half a million dollars to those roads,” she said.  

Canaan will also have road repairs and a bridge replacement to make from the storm.

Mike Samson, the town administrator, says it'll take about three months and another half million dollars to get all those repairs done.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR file photo, aerial support by Lighthawk

At town meeting in Hampton Tuesday, residents could take another big step in adapting to rising seas.

Voters will decide whether to require pilings under new structures in certain at-risk coastal areas.

Thomas K. Babbit / NHPR file

New data obtained by NPR shows the federal government has bought out more than 60 New Hampshire properties after natural disasters in recent years.

The analysis shows the buyout program disproportionately benefits white and wealthy people.

Read the full NPR investigation and explore the data.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will buy a property prone to flooding to keep taxpayers from funding repeated insurance claims.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Last weekend's winter storm caused only moderate flooding on New Hampshire's Seacoast. But it provided a window into how rising seas will make flooding more frequent, bringing challenges to the state's coastal communities.

DAN TUOHY / NHPR

A new report from Columbia University and First Street Foundation finds that sea level rise and associated tidal flooding have already soaked up value from the coastal New England real estate market.

Researchers say homes have forgone $400 million in relative value since 2005. And in New Hampshire, it has cost homeowners $15 million in lost value.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

State legislators will consider how to prepare New Hampshire for the effects of climate change this session – including with one bill that would help coastal towns facing rising seas.

Seacoast-area state Senator David Watters spoke at the Seacoast Environmental Film Festival Saturday, after a documentary about sea level rise on the Chesapeake Bay.

Ice jam season is arriving in New Hampshire, and officials are warning residents and town officials to be on the lookout for potential hazards.

An ice jam can form when rain falls on a frozen river or stream amid mild temperatures. The ice can partially melt, the water level rises and the ice breaks into chunks.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Even if countries cut greenhouse gas emissions immediately, New Hampshire will get warmer and wetter within the next three decades, and towns need to plan accordingly.

That was the topic of Nashua's first Resilient Nashua Summit, which the city hosted Tuesday as part of a year-long initative to gather input on its plan for dealing with natural disasters exacerbated by climate change. 

NHDOT

The state is testing a new way to keep beavers from clogging up culverts and flooding roads.

Engineers from the Department of Transportation have installed two “"beaver deceivers" on Route 28 in Londonderry, just east of Manchester-Boston Regional Airport. 

NWS

1:00 PM: 

via The Associated Press

A deluge from the remnants of Hurricane Florence has flooded parts of New Hampshire, forcing firefighters to rescue several people.

In Derry, Fire Chief Chief Mike Gagnon said seven people were rescued by boat Tuesday after water rose 5 to 6 feet outside several small businesses in an industrial area. He said eight others were assisted to higher ground, and about 15 cars were flooded.

Failed Beaver Dam Causes Flood on Route 4 in Epsom

Aug 7, 2018
Photo by Manual Crank via Flickr Creative Commons

Monday evening a torrent of water surprised drivers heading home on Route 4 in Epsom. Officials say the culprit was a failed beaver dam.

Flooding on New Hampshire roads because of beaver dams usually occurs when the critters' do their jobs so well that water backs up down stream. It's more unusual to have a ruptured beaver dam lead to flooding, says New Hampshire Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Boynton.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

This week's new moon and the remnants of tropical storm Chris could bring unusually high tides and minor flooding to parts of Hampton this weekend.

Drivers on roads near Hampton Harbor usually notice when tides reach their flood stage of 11 feet high. Low-lying pavement can become covered in water.

Thursday night's high tide was over 11 feet, and high tides may hit that around midnight and midday through early next week.

National Weather Service meteorologist William Watson says there shouldn't be any serious impacts.

File photo

Deb Bourbeau owns a home in Hampton Beach, and each morning, she checks how high the tides will be. Flooding's been an issue for her and her neighbors.

It's one reason she turned out for the New Hampshire Coastal Climate Summit on Wednesday.

Jason Moon for NHPR

A new study says rising seas could threaten more than 5,000 homes on the New Hampshire Seacoast by the end of the century.

The Seacoast properties at risk from chronic flooding pay more than $33 million in property taxes, according to the national report from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is offering grants to coastal communities looking to better prepare for the effects of climate change.

A total amount of $200,000 is available to towns, state agencies, and private groups.  

Winning projects in the past have included everything from infrastructure projects, to flood plain studies, to educational outreach programs.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

5:30 p.m.: The New Hampshire Department of Transportation reports that the number of crashes are down today, thanks in part to drivers staying off the roads where possible. Roger Lamontagne, of DOT District 3, took this photo of a car off the road at the end of the Laconia bypass in Gilford:

There are only scattered outages, as of 5:30 p.m. Eversource had halved its customer outage to just 50. 

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3 p.m.:  The latest nor'easter is going a lot easier on area utilities than last week's storm. So far.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu inspected historic flooding Saturday on the New Hampshire seacoast, as Atlantic waves whipped up from a nor'easter's high winds breached and eroded sea walls for a second day.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Update: The nor'easter March storm soaked New Hampshire's seacoast towns, causing serious flooding in Hampton Beach and forcing the closure of several roads in Hampton to Rye along Ocean Boulevard. 

Flooding was its worst with the mid-day high tide. Several roads that were blocked or closed were open Friday afternoon, while public safety officials are keeping on eye on the next high tide - close to midnight.

The coastal flood warning is in effect until 2 p.m. Saturday. A high wind warning is in effect until midnight. 

NWS

A winter storm forecast to hit New Hampshire on Friday could result in coastal flooding and power outages.

The National Weather Service issued a coastal flood watch for the Seacoast. High water may have difficulty receding around Hampton, as strong easterly winds pick up over the high tide cycle.

There is also a high wind watch for coastal communities. The storm will generate winds of 20-30 mph, with gusts up to 55 mph.

The Weather Service expects the strongest winds to develop Friday morning, with possible power outages from downed trees and branches.

New Boston Fire Chief Dan MacDonald

The freeze-thaw weather cycle of recent weeks is fueling ice jams in rivers across New Hampshire – including in New Boston, where a huge, persistent blockage could cause flooding this spring.

The jam on the Piscataquog River is more than 3,000 feet long – the length of 10 football fields.

New Boston Fire Chief Dan MacDonald says it's made of foot-thick icebergs that have melted and cracked, then frozen back up into a single solid glacier.

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