US Flood Developments • Watts Up With That?


By Paul Homewood

Roger Pielke Jr skewers the latest alarmist hype:

Everything is getting worse, right? Flooding especially. NPR tells us that:

Heavier rainstorms driven by global warming are sending more water into residential neighborhoods from the Gulf Coast to New England to Appalachia to the Pacific Northwest.

A Federal Emergency Management Official official explained to The Washington Post:

We know that as climate changes, the impacts are getting worse. We’re seeing more and more flooding going on as a result.

Everybody knows this — it is conventional wisdom.

Not only is the conventional wisdom on flooding wrong, data show that flood impacts as measured by direct economic losses have actually decreased by about 90% since 1940 as a proportion of U.S. GDP. The United States is in fact more resilient to flooding than it has ever been. The reduction in flood impacts is an incredible story of success sitting out in plain sight that is completely ignored, in favor of stories that instead tell us that down is up.

The figure below shows U.S. annual flood damage as a proportion of GDP. In 1940 flood losses amounted to a 2023 equivalent of about $50 billion per year, and in 2022 they totalled about $5 billion, a reduction of over 90%.¹

Full post here.

As Pielke notes, economic impacts, whether good or worse, tell us nothing about climate impacts. If you want to analyse them, you need to look at the actual weather and flooding data.

And according to the EPA, there is no evidence that climate change has made flooding worse in the USA. All we see is the usual mixed bag, including increased flooding magnitude in some areas, mainly the Northeast, and decreased magnitude in others.

Figure 1. Change in the Magnitude of River Flooding in the United States, 1965–2015:

This figure shows changes in the size of flooding events in rivers and streams in the United States between 1965 and 2015. Blue upward-pointing symbols show locations where floods have become larger; brown downward-pointing symbols show locations where floods have become smaller. The larger, solid-color symbols represent stations where the change was statistically significant.


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