King tides and timeshare resorts

In many parts of the U.S., autumn brings falling leaves, early frosts, harvesting, hayrides, and Hallowe’en. In coastal locations, autumn also brings king tides — the highest high tides of the year, as the orbits of the earth, sun, and moon align to increase the pull of gravity on the water surrounding the coasts. King tides typically occur in September, October, and November, with the king of kings (the peak annual tide) in October.

King tides are nothing new, but as sea level rises, so do the mean (average) high tide level and the height of the highest high tides. Unfortunately, coastal development — seawalls, bridges, roads, walkways, and buildings (including timeshare resorts) — has been based on a mean high-tide level lower than what exists in many areas today.

Thus, tidal flooding in many coastal locations already is a reality today, and it will become worse in the future as sea level continues to rise. We’ve written before about sea level rise (Watch Sea Level Rise Online, August 2014) but the projections in that article may have been too timid.

In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change doubled its projection of the world’s rising sea levels.

A 2017 article in the journal PLOS One predicts that some locations will experience tidal flooding nearly 50 times a year by 2030 and over 200 times a year by 2045.

As sea level rises, the dunes that protect many coastal resorts from flooding will offer less protection. Inundation of coastal marshes and waterways behind the dunes also will occur, cutting off access roads and recreational facilities on the landward side of such properties. Eventually the dunes themselves will be submerged, first intermittently, and then permanently as the shoreline shifts landward.

The headline of a recent article in Business Insider a proclaims: “Nearly one trillion dollars of US real estate is threatened by rising seas, and the risk is already affecting home values.” While the article deals specifically with residential real estate, it should give cause for concern to resort developers, current timeshare owners, and consumers considering a timeshare purchase in a coastal location.

We have suggested before that the owners’ associations of existing coastal timeshare resorts should acquire property far enough and high enough inland to avoid coastal flooding for decades to come, exchange timeshares in the new location for those in the existing location, and operate a shuttle service to and from the beach.

The association should be prepared to abandon the beachfront property when its inundation becomes inevitable. If in the interim a hurricane severely damages or destroys the beachfront property, it can be replaced with “soft” structures and facilities that cost less to build and less to replace when damaged or destroyed again.

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By Darren Wheeling October 26, 2018 24 Comments