Maybe Hampton Roads Isn’t the Second Most Vulnerable Metro After All

Norfolk flooding this past August. Photo credit: Virginian-Pilot.

Dave Mayfield, a reporter with the Virginian-Pilot, has frequently repeated the claim that Hampton Roads, after New Orleans, was the most vulnerable to sea level of rise major U.S. metropolitan areas. I’ve repeated that factoid on this blog — perhaps I picked it up from his writing, I can’t remember. Anyway, Mayfield began wondering about the scientific basis for that judgment. After digging into the matter, he discovered that Galveston, Texas, which is part of the Houston metropolitan area, is probably  more vulnerable…. depending on which metric you use to define vulnerability, which is another issue in itself.

Mayfield’s bottom line:

Sea level rise is too complicated a problem and each coastal area too unique to make truly reliable comparisons. So I’m going to resist calling Hampton Roads the third-most-vulnerable major metro area in the country, even with my new understanding.

I’m hoping that, by now, we all can accept that we’ve got a big problem, one that won’t easily be solved.

I respect anyone who questions his own assumptions, appreciates complexity, and is willing to revise his thinking. Good work, Mayfield!