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Climate Change Forces FEMA to Update Flood Maps for NYC


New York City Flooding Attributed to Hurricane Sandy [Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Rising Sea Levels]
New York City Flooding Attributed to Hurricane Sandy [Climate Change, Extreme Weather, Rising Sea Levels]
We’ve gotten away from the misnomer Global Warming lately. Climate Change is probably the best way to describe the situation globally.

The problem with the term global warming is trying to justify worst winter storm with warming. Really, the occurrence of extreme weather conditions, whether winter storms, summer heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding or droughts, are all related to natural systems attempting to stabilize. Climate change, if kept unchecked, will continue to generate extreme weather events.

Wherever there are more people packed into a small area, such as a large coastal city, the chances of severe weather impacting human civilization is that much greater. Sure, there are places where the hottest temperature has ever been recorded, 123°F in Oodnadatta, Australia, but there are only 277 people in that town, or 134°F in Death Valley National Park [zero population]. On the other hand, bring extreme conditions to the 18.9 million residents of the New York Metropolitan Area, and it’s a disaster.

Flood maps released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] indicate that, by 2050, more than 800,000 people will live in the 100-Year Flood Plain centered around New York City. Storms like Hurricane Sandy are expected to get worse, and sea levels are rising, exacerbating the potential problem. From 1900 to 2013, the average sea level in New York City has increased by 12”, and a panel put together by Mayor Michael Bloomberg indicates that sea levels could rise by another 11” in the next 5 years alone.

What does this mean for New York City residents? For one, don’t expect the situation to get any better, as climate change driven storms are only expected to increase in number and severity. Those caught in the path will suffer the consequences, if only of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Secondly, at least for an immediate outlook, FEMA’s flood maps will help determine who lives in flood-prone areas and how much residents will have to pay for flood insurance.

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