Sunday, April 14, 2024

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Are Flash Floods Becoming More Common?

Flash flooding is making headlines again as major cities like New York and London have experienced them within the last month. This raises the question, are flash floods becoming more common due to climate change?

In terms of destruction, flash floods are among the worse and can cost larger cities millions of dollars in damages. And due to their sudden nature, they can leave hundreds dead in their wake.

Research on the subject indicates that flashfloods could be five times more likely by 2080 if climate conditions continue.

What Is A Flash Flood?

Flash Flood

A flash flood is a sudden burst of rain that produces more water than the surrounding area can handle. For cities, this means the drainage and sewage systems reach maximum capacity.

For non-developed land, this means the amount of water exceeds the absorption potential of the soil or sand. Typically, only undeveloped land next to a river is susceptible to this.

While it is possible to predict storms before they happen, many of them are hard to catch. This is because flash flooding can easily get overshadowed by other weather conditions occurring at the same time.

After all, rain is pretty common.

Why Is This More Common in Cities?

Flash flood rain conditions are not exclusive to cities. They happen everywhere, but these other areas can handle them better. Instead, the reason that you only see the full effects in developed areas is due to the ground.

Most of the land in a city or developed area is not dirt or sand, as it’s pavement and cement. Dirt and sand can absorb more of the water, which prevents it from building up. At least under normal circumstances.

In a city, there’s nowhere else for that water to go once the drains are filled. It stays on top of the cement and pavement. Thus, when this intense and sudden rain happens, the water levels can get higher very fast.

And it doesn’t take much water before it becomes deadly.

Seriously, it only takes a foot of water to make your car lose control. At two feet, the water is strong enough to float your car away, which is why 50% of all drownings are vehicle-related.

On foot, it takes even less later and it’s easy to lose your balance. As you can imagine, cities and developed areas are full of vehicles, so it makes it a terrible combination.

Can Flash Floods Be Mitigated?

Absolutely!

The drain and sewage systems are already in place. Cities can improve the infrastructure to better prepare these areas for more intense rainfall. And with climate pledges not doing enough, this is necessary.

Choosing to not improve these systems will be a disaster for residents. This can lead to extreme property damage, interruptions to transportation and emergency services (ambulances), power outages, and much more.

Of course, it’s also possible to mitigate it by cutting emissions. Flash flooding is a rare event. Even though more cases are cropping out, it’s still not that common. But as climate change accelerates, these events will become more prevalent.

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Robert Giaquinto

Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.

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