The Accuracy of Flood Maps

Scientists blame global warming for the rise of sea levels, stating higher seas will cause more coastal flooding in this century and beyond in places that have ordinarily been dry and out of harm’s way. However, mapping where these future floods will strike has barely begun.


What Happened? The Deadly Montecito Mudslides

The devastating effects of the wildfires in Southern California last year have created the perfect conditions for deadly mudslides and floods. According to ABC, “Heavy rain unleashed flash floods and debris flow in the southern part of California Tuesday, just weeks after several wildfires torched the area. At least 17 people have died, another 8 are missing and more than two dozen are injured in the Golden State from weather-related incidents, according to Santa Barbara County officials.” This disaster took place in the same community in Montecito where just last month, firefighters battled the largest wildfire in the state’s history.

Cities of the Future: Flood Preparation

Tokyo has a $2 billion underground anti-flood system that was completed in 2006. The New York Times has called it “an extraordinary example of the defenses that global cities are readying as they face an era of extreme weather brought on by climate change.” It’s the world’s largest underground flood water diversion facility. What do cities here in the United States need to do to prepare for floods and the often extreme unpredictable weather that causes them? Recently, Houston officials have asked for state and federal funds to help build a $400 million reservoir that could keep stormwater from destroying downstream neighborhoods.

What 500 and 100-Year Flood Really Means

A 500-year flood does not mean that it only happens once every 500 years. In theory, a 500-year flood is something that has a 1-in-500 chance of happening in any given year. Thus, it’s an event with such a low probability of happening that it doesn’t even make sense to plan around its occurrence. However, the issue with this term is that the so-called 500-year floods are happening at a greater rate than these given odds — particularly in flood-prone cities. Flood prevention and planning in cities like Houston haven’t advanced to acknowledge that a 100-year or 500-year flood isn’t really that inconceivable to expect annually. In fact, parts of Houston saw “500-year flooding” just last year.