TAMPA (FOX 13) - We have sunshine, beaches and beautiful waterfront properties here in Florida. However, according to a new report, the coastline that draws so many people here, is also one of the state's biggest liabilities.
A team of researchers says Florida leads the nation in the number of homes at risk for chronic flooding in the coming decades. In fact, within the next 30 years, more than 64,000 properties are in danger from rising sea levels, and the Tampa Bay region is one of the most highly exposed areas.
It's a lifestyle and a luxury. People who get to call Florida’s coastline home know they have prime real-estate.
"We kayak out back, do a little bit of fishing," said Robert Adams.
"We have manatee that come up, we have dolphin, and it's just a beautiful area," Susan Mosley said.
It's desirable land, and in the Sunshine State it’s also highly developed and low-lying. According to researchers, thousands of waterfront homes in our region could be uninhabitable by 2045.
A study released Monday by the Union of Concerned Scientists used property data from online real-estate company Zillow, along with three rising sea level scenarios developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The analysis projects high-tide flooding will become a chronic problem.
For many people living along the coastline, high water is already a familiar and disruptive reality.
"The sea wall is not very high, it's maybe three-feet, but when some of the tides come in now are starting to come up over the seawall and stuff," Adams said.
A few blocks away, residents tell us it's even worse.
"As long as we've lived here, we've had flooding issues,” said Mosley. “So we accept that it's part of being a homeowner on the water."
The study says the sea level is projected to rise about 2 feet within the lifespan of a 30-year mortgage issued today. In Tampa, that puts 406 homes potentially at risk for chronic tidal flooding. In St. Petersburg, 1,776 houses could be threatened. The number is 1,818 in Clearwater, and 4,368 houses would be in danger in Bradenton.
As sea levels rise, property values will sink, along with other grim economic impacts. A serious concern for some people.
"It's not surprising to me, and it's something that we consider often in our decision whether to stay or to move somewhere else," added Mosley.
Along with the findings, researchers released an interactive map to see the impacts of sea level rise in your community.