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How to Use This Resource: The site combines the latest climate-related stories from Climate Desk’s partners, as well as features from its own staff.
Extreme rain: New research predicts wetter, riskier storms for much of U.S.
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.
Dig deeper on the extreme rains story using the dozens of related resources on storms and floods in the Reporter’s Guide to Climate Adaptation database.
Know of other extreme precipitation resources we should include in our database?
- Share your resources.
- Share your disaster response stories and story angles.
Posted by A. Adam Glenn on Dec. 15, 2016
Executive Producer: A. Adam Glenn
Editorial Researcher/Producer: Kathleen Culliton
Designers: David LaGesse, Laura Stanton, LaVidaCo Communications
Audience Research: Aimee Xu
Web Developer: Barrett Golding
Web Administrator: Lamar Henderson
Video Animation: KindeaLabs
Executive Director, RJI: Randy Picht
Development, RJI: Roger Gafke
Communications/Promotion, RJI: Brian Steffens, Jennifer Nelson, Nate Brown
Journalism Futures Lab, RJI: Mike McKean, Reuben Stern
Research, RJI: Esther Thorson
Administration, RJI: Rene Rau, Becky Acton
Additional editorial guidance provided by Tim McDonnell of Climate Desk, Sara Shipley Hiles and Bill Allen of the Missouri School of Journalism, Brian Houston of the Disaster and Community Crisis Center at the University of Missouri, Mark Schliefstein of The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune, Scott Tong of American Public Media’s Marketplace.org, members of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and Sunshine Menezes and staff at the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting at the Graduate School of Oceanography, University of Rhode Island.