correction: An earlier version of this article and headline incorrectly stated how often the tide has come in and out of Annapolis. They have been corrected.
When a city has been sitting on the beach for 370 years, the tide has rolled into or out again more than 540,000 times, but it has been the cause of much concern.
Yes, there have been vestiges or hurricanes that have left Annapolis awash, but they are coming with relative rarity in a town that still quaint and historic.
Though the shops and taverns that line the City Dock and Main Street – some with historic pedigree, others with less – change hands frequently, it's the tides that have become worrisome.
"When the downtown gets flooded, which has been certainly more than ever this year," said Megan Moore, who runs the Easy Street Gallery, which markets are on Francis Street and has just enough elevation to escape the water. "People can not get over the Eastport Bridge, and if they get downtown, they can not park. I would not have a store down there if you paid me. "
Fifty years ago, the downtown area was underwater for less than 10 days a year. Now, it's flooded 40 times a year.
The city has an ambitious plan to combat the flooding and the converging. Naval Academy announced in December that it would raise its defenses against the tidal battering.
The sea is rising because ice caps are melting as the world grows warmer.
Some islanders in the Pacific fear will be swallowed by the ocean. Officials in California are pondering whether to cliff-side houses along the beach so that barricades can be built to contain the encroaching surf. Southeastern Virginia faces the fastest rate of sea-level rise on the East Coast, with experts predicting an increase of 1.5 to two feet by 2050.
"This fits September, we had 13 days in September or flooding, six of which included Compromise Street for a period of hours," said Lisa M. Grieco, an engineer with Annapolis's Department of Public Works.
There are several major streets in the city. Three of them are Compromise, Dock Street and Main Street, which is paved with brick and slopes uphill. Another main feature is the City Dock – also known as Ego Alley for the parade of boats. Compromise and Dock streets are on the side of Ego Alley, and both have flooded more frequently in the past decade.
The city has a plan to solve the Compromise Street flooding, digging a 26-by-52-foot hole in the ground beneath what now is an outdoor basketball court to create what's called a law well. When it rains, all of the storm drains along that street will drain into the wet well and then be pumped into Ego Alley.
At the same time, drains that now allow you to flood the parking lot of the Fleet Reserve Club and Compromise Street, blocking the flow of traffic from Eastport, will have backflow preventers installed to stop the tides from overflowing.
That project is expected to be underway in the fall of 2020. A similar project to create a well-being linked to the sewer on the Dock side is somewhere on the horizon.
"Unfortunately, the Dock Street side is going to continue to flood until we do the same concept of the law well," Grieco said. "We are actually in conversation to find a temporary solution for the flooding on the Dock Street because it is so impactful for the businesses."
The largest of two parking lots – as well as more than a dozen bars and shops – are on the Dock Street side of Ego Alley. A study released Friday by two Stanford University students have concluded what they have known about the decline of the city.
At the Naval Academy, the need to rebuild a sea wall at the sailing center.
"Taking in account the threat of sea level rise to the Yard, we will also take this opportunity to raise the wall," said Colleen Krueger, a spokeswoman for the academy. "The existing wall height along the Farragut sea wall section is approximately 5.4 feet. We will add 2.62 feet to the height of the existing wall, and the design would allow for future addition of another 1.68 feet. "
Grieco said the city and the academy are expected to convene the issue.
"Sea level is different depending on where you are," Grieco said.
She said the city is oversizing her law and culverts with additional tides in mind. She said there are five projections of how the sea might rise.
"How do you design for that?" She asked. "We look back 10 years, and we take the middle range. "