Storm-driven tides cause flooding

Waves crash over the seawall next to Marshall Islands Club's Chit Chat Restaurant. Photo Karen Earnshaw
Waves crash over the seawall next to Marshall Islands Club’s Chit Chat Restaurant. Photo Karen Earnshaw


King tides and storm surges combined to inundate low-lying areas in the Marshall Islands last week, tossing rocks and debris into roads, backyards and homes. No one was injured and damage was slight compared to flooding over the past two years.

But repeated inundations over the past several years in the Marshall Islands underline the increasing vulnerability of these islands to even slight changes in weather patterns — inundation problems that climate researchers say will increase in frequency as ocean levels rise.

As the powerful El Niño weather condition now impacting the region has begun to wane since January, sea levels have risen. This, coupled with the highest tides of 2016 and a storm kicking up 30 knot winds, produced flooding that forced several hundred Bikini Islanders on Kili Island to move to a different part of this mile-long island when their homes flooded Wednesday afternoon. It is the second time in as many years that high tides have caused significant flooding on Kili, and this year’s timed their arrival to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Bikinians’ first relocation from Bikini in 1946 to make way for atomic testing.

Inundation in Majuro, the nation’s capital, was mild compared to previous flooding events.

Read more about this in the March 18, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.