Overview: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the federal organization that develops policies concerned with human health and the environment.
How to Use This Resource: This desktop application estimates the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site anywhere in the United States.
By A. Adam Glenn
In the news: Extreme rains are expected to increase significantly across nearly the entire continental United States, according to a government study that provides a highly detailed picture of wetter storms to come with climate change.
Back story: Researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said in the Dec. 5 study that extreme precipitation can be expected to increase as much as five fold, especially in the Northeast and Gulf Coast regions. But even the Midwest, which is getting drier, will see intense rains that could cause serious erosion.
Adaptation angle: The resulting rise in flash flood risk and challenges for existing infrastructure suggests “a clear need to increase societal resilience … and fundamental reassessments of planning approaches to intense precipitation, local flooding, landslides, and debris flows,” argued the authors.
Questions to ask
- What specific changes in extreme precipitation events are expected in your area?
- What kinds of disruptions, such as landslides or erosion, can be expected as a result of heavier rains?
- How well prepared are local authorities for impacts from extreme weather and floods, such as power outages and transportation disruptions?
- Does your community have an early warning systems?
- What changes in area stormwater management might be needed to prepare for overflowing reservoirs or overtaxed sewage systems?
Check for additional questions to ask in our backgrounder on inland flooding.
- The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency site on climate change offers access to a wide range of flood-related tools, including links to information on risk mapping, federal flood risk management standards, coastal flood risks, flood insurance and emergency response.
- The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a catalog of data snapshots and climate maps that allow users to filter for severe weather.
- NOAA’s severe weather database provides access to its weather and climate toolkit, which allows visualization and data export of weather and climate data, and provides tools for background maps, animations and basic filtering.
- For specific flood risks to transportation, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration’s Building Climate Resilient Transportation site touches on flooding’s impacts on roads and highways.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers a desktop National Stormwater Calculator, which estimates the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from specific sites anywhere in the United States. EPA also has a set of maps and datasets that provide coastal storm surge scenarios for water utilities.
- For news coverage of floods and flood risk, scan Climate Desk’s section on weather and climate, or Climate Central’s extreme weather research database and its States of Change interactive map of multimedia stories, research and data. The Climate Central site also includes a collection of extreme weather videos.
Know of other extreme precipitation resources we should include in our database?
Posted by A. Adam Glenn on Dec. 15, 2016
IN THE NEWS: The torrential downpours that have swollen rivers in Texas in recent days, taking at least six lives, and heavy rains that inundated Houston earlier in April, costing eight lives and forcing the evacuation of thousands, are harbingers of rising inland flood risk, not just in Texas and the Southwest, but through the country.
BACKSTORY: Experts in a federal study warn extreme rain is increasing nationally, especially in the Northeast, Midwest and upper Great Plains, and that flooding may intensify in many regions of the country. Flash floods and urban flooding linked to heavy rain are also expected to increase.
ADAPTATION ANGLE: But many states aren’t prepared for the rising risk. According to an analysis of more than 30 states, half have taken no action to plan for future changes in inland flooding risks or implemented strategies to address them. Among those receiving especially poor grades are Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and West Virginia.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:
- What’s the risk in your region, and how well are authorities prepared?
- What early warning systems are in place, including for inundated roads where most of the fatalities in Texas have taken place?
- How well is your area prepared for the power outages, transportation problems and other impacts that can come with flooding?
- What are the risks to other infrastructure, such as water treatment facilities?
- What are the risks of local flood waters carrying toxins or other health hazards?
- What procedures are in place for local dams to help with flood control?
- How well are emergency responders prepared for floods and flood rescues?
- What can residents do to better prepare and be safe during floods?
- Are rising flood insurance costs an issue locally?
REPORTING RESOURCES: Dig deeper on the flood risk and response story using the more than three dozen flood-related resources in the database of the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation:
- Report on region-by-region extreme weather risks using the 2014 National Climate Assessment, which has sections on heavy rains and on flooding.
- Report on your state’s inland flooding threat level and preparedness using Climate Central’s States At Risk Report Card, which has state-by-state detail on inland flooding risk.
- Calculate the amount of rainwater expected at any specific site in the U.S. with the EPA’s National Stormwater Calculator.
- Research urban flood resilience ideas on the 100ResilientCities site, such as case studies from Tulsa, Norfolk and Boulder
- Find out about transportation resilience from the Federal Highway Administration
- See how how water utilities are preparing for inland flooding risk from this EPA site, including this case study video from a Minnesota municipality.
- Dig into flood management policy issues in the FEMA web site on climate change response, and on community floodplain management strategies from the Association of State Floodplain Managers.
Posted by A. Adam Glenn on June 6, 2016