History has plenty to teach us on a wide variety of topics, including weather. Severe storms and natural disasters are certainly nothing new. However, looking back at our responses to storms can help us understand how to improve and prevent a greater loss of life in the future. And when it comes to severe weather and flooding, the 2010s certainly have plenty to show us.
The 2010s were a decade of many major events, including several notable hurricanes and severe storms. What can we learn from these disasters to improve our future responses? #HSIServices #AquaBarrier Click To Tweet
Severe Weather of the 2010s
Between 2010 and 2019, the United States experienced a near-record number of severe storms and natural disasters of many different kinds. The floods, however, provide particularly interesting insights into emergency response. Here are just a few examples of extensive flooding in the past decade:
- Bomb Cyclone: 9-month flood
- Hurricane Sandy
- Hurricane Harvey
- Flooding in North and South Carolina
- Hurricane Michael
1) Bomb Cyclone: 9-Month Flood
The “Bomb Cyclone” of 2019 resulted in heavy flooding, but not entirely from rainfall. This heavy snowstorm resulted in a significant amount of melting, causing local rivers to fill up rapidly. The influx of water ultimately broke through a Nebraska dam and allowed the water to flood a massive region stretching from Iowa to South Dakota and even the banks of the Mississippi River. Many flooded regions stayed largely underwater for nearly 9 months, and a fair number more remained flooded significantly longer.
2) Hurricane Sandy
2012’s Hurricane Sandy remains famous for its unexpected trajectory change as well as for its massive storm surge. Seven New York City subways tunnels filled with water and the water level in the Battery increased by almost 14 feet. Repairs for certain areas of New York lasted well into 2019, and a great number of homes have never been rebuilt.
Pro Tip: Hurricane Sandy was not expected to make landfall as a hurricane, so warnings from local weather services focused solely on high winds and flooding. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on the weather yourself whenever a storm begins to form–keep track of developing danger.
3) Hurricane Harvey
Houston residents remember Hurricane Harvey all too well. In 2017, this Category 4 hurricane moved slowly along the Texas coastline, leaving torrents of rain in its wake. Most of the Houston area experienced at least 20 inches of rain, with some reaching 40 inches and at least two locations nearly hitting 60. Harvey holds the record for causing the most widespread rainfall in US history.
4) Flooding in North & South Carolina
2015-2019 was a rough period for both North and South Carolina. In 2015, a severe storm–not even technically a hurricane–dumped between 21-27 inches of rain across South Carolina, shattering rainfall records more than 100 years old. 2016 brought Hurricane Matthew to North Carolina, dropping approximately 19 inches of rain and destroying more than 100,000 buildings. But 2018’s Hurricane Florence eclipsed both previous hurricanes with a total rainfall of 24 inches and an estimated $24.5 billion in damage. Finally, Hurricane Dorian hit North Carolina’s Outer Banks in 2019, destroying hundreds of homes and halting tourism to the area for months.
5) Hurricane Michael
2018’s Hurricane Michael is one of only 4 hurricanes to make landfall on the US as a Category 5. Between a 14-foot storm surge and torrential rain, Michael rose the local water levels more than 20 feet above high tide and caused nearly $6 billion in damages across Alabama and Georgia. A portion of Floria’s Big Bend was destroyed. Hurricane Michael left a significant impact that the region still feels years later.
Preparing for Future Flooding
We may not be able to stop hurricanes from forming or even from making landfall. However, we can certainly improve our emergency preparations and responses to lower both damage and loss of life. Learning from our past mistakes gives us specific areas to improve.
Join the conversation to learn more about preparing for heavy rain and severe flooding all year round.