Our weather is no doubt becoming more extreme. Climate change and rising global temperatures are largely to blame for this pattern. Rainfall is more intense, sea levels are climbing, and hurricanes are becoming more frequent. Here’s what you need to know to protect yourself and your property.
Types of Flooding
There are four main types of flooding: river and stream flooding, coastal flooding, flash flooding, and urban flooding.
One study shows an estimated 41 million U.S. residents are at risk of flooding along rivers and streams. More than 8.6 million Americans live in areas prone to coastal flooding, which can cause widespread devastation. Flash floods are responsible for the greatest number of flood-related fatalities. Urban flooding occurs when rainfall overwhelms the local stormwater drainage capacity of a densely populated area.
Impact of Climate Change on Floods
It is hard to directly link flooding to climate change due to a lack of data on historical events of the past. However, a report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) found evidence that climate change “has detectably influenced” water-related variables that contribute to flooding, such as rainfall and snowmelt.
How Climate Change Increases Flood Risks
There are several ways climate change can enhance the risk of flooding.
Heavier precipitation. A warmer atmosphere holds more water which is dumped on our earth. America has heated up about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since 1901 and has become about 4% wetter. In the Northeast, the most extreme storms generate about 27% more moisture than they did a century ago. Heavy precipitation events are projected to increase, along with temperatures, through the 21st century.
More hurricanes. The frequency of strong storms is a trend that will likely continue through this century. In the Atlantic basin, an 80% jump in the frequency of category 4 and 5 hurricanes, the most destructive, is expected over the next 80 years.
Increasing global sea levels. As temperatures rise, melting glaciers and ice sheets will dump more water into the seas. Our oceans are seven to eight inches higher than they were in 1900. Three of those inches have been added since 1993. The IPCC predicts world seas will rise anywhere from a foot to more than four feet by this century’s end. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects ocean waters along the East Coast could be nearly 10 feet higher by 2100.
Flash Flooding Trends
The number of flash floods will continue to increase due to more frequent extreme precipitation events. Researchers also expect these floods will become more dangerous, as their timing gets shorter and their magnitude higher.
It may also become more common for flash floods to follow catastrophic wildfires that destroy forests and other vegetation. Wildfires weaken the soil and make it less permeable. If heavy rain falls in the area, the land won’t absorb it like it once did.
How to Prepare for Flooding
There are a few things you can do to prepare for high water. If you live in a flood-prone area, invest in flood insurance. Plan and practice an evacuation route and routine with your family. Assemble an emergency supply kit. Visit Ready.gov for help. Stay on top of changing weather conditions.
Let Us Clean Up the Mess
When it comes to home disasters, Flood Department is here to help. We provide repair and clean-up services for homeowners and businesses. We are dedicated to helping reverse the damage done by water, mold, sewage, smoke, and more. We cover Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Contact us today at 301-829-2600 or visit us online.