MEAN HIGH WATER
A project documenting
Sea Level Rise & Flooding
in the South Carolina Lowcountry
Mean High Water (MHW) is a project documenting the impacts of sea level rise in and beyond the South Carolina Lowcountry. The title is in reference to the MHW tidal datum defined and maintained by the NOAA Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Service.
The tides of Charleston Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean are increasingly encroaching into the natural and built environment of Charleston and the Lowcountry. The rate of increase in the number of coastal flood events is alarming. Approximately 45% of all coastal floods observed in Charleston Harbor from 1953 through 2020 have occurred since 2010. An average of 18.8 coastal floods occurred per year in the 1990s. In the 2010s, the annual average was 42.4 coastal floods
, an increase of over 200%.
This project was started by photographer and engineer Jared Bramblett in 2020. It is intended to be an evolving and collaborative documentation of the impacts of rising seas and how communities are adapting to them. If you are interested in participating and submitting to the project,
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All thoughts and opinions presented on this site are solely those of the author and are not necessarily those of any other organizations.
RECORDS & STATISTICS
Charleston Harbor, Cooper River Entrance
Major Coastal Floods
Peak Tide Crests
09/22/1989 - 12.52-ft (Hugo)
08/11/1940 - 10.23-ft (Unnamed)
09/11/2017 - 9.92-ft (Irma)
10/08/2016 - 9.29 (Matthew)
01/01/1987 - 8.81-ft
26 of the 40 (65%) major flood tides on record have occurred since 2015.
Statistics current as of 11/9/2021
Tidal Benchmark Station - Charleston, Cooper River Entrance, SC - Station ID: 8665530
This is the homepage for the Charleston Tidal Benchmark, which serves as the main tide gauge referenced for tide levels in the Charleston region. The tidal datums (e.g. MLLW, MHW, MHHW) for Charleston are presented here. Lunar tide levels predictions can be found here, and the database of historic tide levels can be accessed here.
NWS Coastal Flood Event Database
This is a database maintained by the National Weather Service Charleston that tracks coastal flooding in Charleston and Savannah. It is referenced often throughout this site, particularly when discussing the number of coastal floods that have occurred in Charleston Harbor.
Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service, Charleston, SC
Forecasts for water levels at the tidal bench mark based on meteorological predictions are presented here.
︎︎︎ Animation showing potential impacts of up to five (5) feet of sea level rise (source: USGS, Charleston County)
On Flooding in Charleston︎︎︎
Flooding in Charleston (2015-2020)︎︎︎
Elevations on MLLW Datum︎︎︎
Louisville’s Flood Protection System︎︎︎
Running on Cargo