Rainfall & Floods

RAINFALL & FLOODS

Downpours and more intense hurricanes, exacerbated by climate change, are contributing factors to a growing number of communities finding themselves underwater. Floods are the most common (and among the most deadly) natural disasters in the United States.

2019 saw much of the country experience record-breaking rain with five Midwestern states recording the wettest year in 125 years according  to NOAA. Flooding affected nearly 14 million people across the Midwest and Southwest, Houston was swamped by the second 500-year flood in two years, dumping over 40 inches of rain within 72 hours, and DC flash floods saw a month’s rain in only one hour

Farmers and agriculture workers are hit particularly hard as crops have been destroyed, fields washed away, and spring planting disrupted for many farmers. Insufficient flood protection has left infrastructure destroyed with one farmer commenting, “I drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was…gone.” By Spring 2019, 25 states were at serious risk for flooding.  

CREDIT: NOAA

CURRENT NEWS

Once rain stopped, why did flooding continue?

By Rebekah F. Ward 05/08/24
For days, Houston-area residents living in the San Jacinto River watershed had watched their cars fill with muck and home windows give way to brown floodwaters, even after the skies brightened. While many fled before…
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Live storm updates: Flood watch to stay in effect through Sunday

By Catherine Dominguez and Others 05/03/24
The worst of the flooding along the San Jacinto River in northeast Harris County is expected to begin Friday afternoon and continue into Sunday, Harris County officials said Thursday.
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Phoenix Approves Measure to Protect Workers from Extreme Heat as Florida Blocks Similar Efforts

03/28/24
The Phoenix City Council has approved a new ordinance to protect many workers from extreme heat. Phoenix is the hottest city in the country. Contractors working with the city will be required to provide cooling…
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New Data Details the Risk of Sea-Level Rise for U.S. Coastal Cities

By Mira Rojanasakul 03/06/24
A new study of sea-level rise using detailed data on changes to land elevation found that current scientific models may not accurately capture vulnerabilities in 32 coastal cities in the United States.
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In Florida, Skyrocketing Insurance Rates Test Resolve of Homeowners in Risky Areas

By Amy Green 03/06/24
For most of his life, Cory Infinger has lived down a hill and along a bend in the Little Wekiva River, a gentle stream meandering northwest of Orlando. During Hurricane Ian, in September 2022, the…
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It’s time for Northeast to prep for floods like those that hit this winter. Climate change is why

By Patrick Whittle 02/15/24
After back-to-back storms lashed the Northeast in January, rental properties Haim Levy owns in coastal Hampton, New Hampshire, were hammered by nearly two feet of water, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage…
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1 million Southern California homes have long-term flash flood risk

By Jonathan Lansner 02/09/24
February’s soaking from twin atmospheric rivers should serve as a reminder that despite Southern California’s legendary great weather, roughly one in five local houses have long-term risks of flash flood damage.
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Deadly storm pummeling California dumps historic rains over LA

By Andrew Freedman 02/07/24
Heavy rainfall and mountain snow from a "dangerous" atmospheric river slamming Southern California that brought a rare "high risk" of potentially deadly flooding in Los Angeles County this week is set to linger until at…
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Las Tormentas: L.A. County Meets a Next-Level Atmospheric River

By Audrey Gray 02/06/24
Around 9 p.m. on Sunday evening, Carol Sanborn and Jane Richardson were wrapping up a volunteer appreciation dinner at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles when they heard something…
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Coastal Cities Brace for Climate Change

By Manuela Andreoni 02/01/24
Over the past few weeks, flooding from storms has battered cities in the South and the East Coast, from Louisiana to New Jersey. Overlapping atmospheric rivers over the West Coast have brought heavy rains that…
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East Coast Storm Heavy Winds and Rain Push Through New England

By Judson Jones and Jenna Russell 12/18/23
A storm that flooded parts of the New York metro region early Monday had shifted north by the afternoon commute, bringing high winds and heavy downpours to northern New England. An additional three to five…
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Living in a Neighborhood That Floods, Rain or Shine

By Winston Choi-Schagrin 11/05/23
On a cloudless morning two years ago, shortly after Danielle Smith moved into a new apartment in Far Rockaway, Queens, she looked out of her window and saw a swan gliding by.
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KEY RESOURCES

Climate Change and Inland Flooding

05/08/24
Flooding is costly, damaging, and deadly. Flood risk extends from coastlines to large areas far inland, disproportionately impacting racial minorities and low-income households in the U.S.

The 8th National Risk Assessment: The Precipitation Problem

06/26/23
Flooding from heavy rainfall events is a dangerous phenomenon and has become increasingly more probable and severe in the United States due to climate change. As air temperatures increase, more water vapor may be held…

America underwater

12/06/22
This year, extreme precipitation deluged communities across the United States — a hallmark risk of a warming climate. Government flood-insurance maps often left residents unprepared for the threat.

National Temperature and Precipitation Maps

11/20/20
National temperature and precipitation maps

Science Empowering Communities In The Face Of Flooding

10/06/20
Surging Waters: Science Empowering Communities in the Face of Flooding is a report produced by AGU, a global not-for-profit scientific society dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity.

Storm Surge Inundation Map

06/12/20
This story map illustrates historical hurricane tracks, strike frequency, and potential areas of coastal flooding and inundation from storms by combining the National Hurricane Center’s (NHC’s) hurricane strike dataset.

What is Digital Coast?

06/11/20
This NOAA-sponsored website is focused on helping communities address coastal issues and has become one of the most-used resources in the coastal management community. The dynamic Digital Coast Partnership, whose members represent the website’s primary…

Association of State Floodplain Managers

06/10/20
The mission of ASFPM is to promote education, policies and activities that mitigate current and future losses, costs and human suffering caused by flooding, and to protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains -…

The Great Flood of 2019: A Complete Picture of a Slow-Motion Disaster

02/05/20
This year’s flooding across the Midwest and the South affected nearly 14 million people, yet the full scale of the slowly unfolding disaster has been difficult to fathom. To visualize just how extensive it was,…

Going under: Long wait times for post-flood buyouts leave homeowners underwater

11/18/19
By the end of this century, as many as 13 million people in the United States will see their homes affected by sea level rise. Millions more who live, work, or travel through coastal or…

Understanding FEMA Flood Maps and Limitations

03/21/19
Flooding in the United States (U.S.) has cost over $1 trillion in inflation adjusted dollars since 1980 and represents more than 63% of the cost associated with all billion dollar or more natural disasters.1 It…

Flood Resilience Portal

09/16/19
The Flood Resilience Portals are online spaces for sharing practical knowledge (including ‘solutions’) about why and how to build community flood resilience. They bring together all of the knowledge generated and exchanged through the Zurich…

Floods information and resources

09/11/19
Floods, big or small, can have devastating effects on your home and your family. You can take steps to reduce the harm caused by flooding. Learn how to prepare for a flood, stay safe during…

MORE NEWS

A Climate Change Success Story? Look at Hoboken.

By Michael Kimmelman   11/03/23  
The city of Hoboken, N.J., once a marshy outcropping that the Lenape inhabited only seasonally, hugs the Hudson River. Three-quarters of it occupies a flood plain. It is, in other words, a water magnet. Some…
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A Calamitous Flood Shows the Dangers Lurking in Melting Glaciers

By Hari Kumar and Alex Travelli   10/06/23  
Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, 17,000 feet up in the Himalayas just south of India’s border with China, some slight shift started an avalanche. Snow, ice and boulders slid into a giant glacial lake a…
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Why New York City Keeps Flooding

By Patrick McGeehan and Hilary Howard   09/29/23  
All drainage systems have their limitations and New York City’s is 1.75 inches of rainfall per hour. Unfortunately for many New Yorkers, the storm that deluged the region on Friday dropped more than two inches…
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Flooding in New York Rain Eases, but Officials Warn That Flood Risks Remain

By Michael Wilson and Hurubie Meko   09/29/23  
Heavy rain caused serious flooding across the region on Friday, leading Gov. Kathy Hochul to declare a state of emergency as rising waters disrupted travel and stranded people in cars and homes. Heavy rainfall pounded…
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What this month’s deadly floods tell us about our global climate future

By Scott Dance, Marina Dias and Theodora Yu   09/14/23  
When heavy rain hit southern Brazil last week, Moisés Alexandre Heck de Carvalho braced for shin-deep floodwaters, like the country saw a 2020 deluge. Instead, the waters rose so high that the 43-year-old grabbed his…
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Leominster assesses the damage after ‘catastrophic’ floods

By John Hilliard, Emily Sweeney and Shannon Larson   09/12/23  
The day after torrential rain caused “catastrophic” flooding in this central Massachusetts city, washing out roads and train tracks and leaving much of the downtown underwater, officials rushed to shore up dams threatened by the…
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More Than 5,000 Dead in Libya as Collapsed Dams Worsen Flood Disaster

By Mohammed Abdusamee, Vivian Nereim and Isabella Kwai   09/12/23  
More than 5,000 people were killed in Libya after torrential rains caused two dams to burst near the coastal city of Derna, destroying much of the city and carrying entire neighborhoods into the sea, local…
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What your insurer is trying to tell you about climate change

By Juliette Kayyem   08/28/23  
Having worked for decades in conservation nonprofits, Beth Pratt, who lives high in the Sierra Foothills in Midpines, California, understands how climate change is putting her home at ever greater risk. Her community is experiencing…
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Summer Flooding Challenges the United States’ Climate Change REadiness

By Eileen Shader   08/21/23  
The flash flooding currently happening in Southern California and Nevada is the latest example of why we must transform the management and health of rivers and streams to strengthen communities in the face of climate…
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Tornadoes, flash flooding reported as powerful storms move through southern New England

By Steve Bottari   08/18/23  
The NWS confirmed tornadoes that a tornado touched down in North Attleboro and Mansfield, Massachusetts. Another tornado was confirmed in Weymouth. The NWS was assessing damage in Scituate, Rhode Island, to see if a tornado…
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Torrent of Water From Alaska Glacier Floods Juneau

By Claire Moses   08/08/23  
Residents in Alaska’s capital, Juneau, were urged on Monday to stay away from the Mendenhall River after flooding from a glacier destroyed two buildings and eroded riverbanks in the city over the weekend. Local officials…
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Inundation and Injustice: Flooding Presents a Formidable Threat to the Great Lakes Region

By Kari Lydersen, Ensia   08/08/23  
This summer’s Independence Day weekend was meant to be a historic moment for Chicago, featuring the first-ever NASCAR street race with cars speeding through the city’s downtown. But these plans were partially derailed as history…
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Why so many Vermonters were blindsided by July’s flooding

By Tik Root   08/08/23  
As heavy rain drenched Barre, Vermont last month, Kim Beinin was watching "Thor" with her two young children. About halfway through the movie, she peeked out the window and was startled to see water flowing…
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East Coast faces unusually dangerous thunderstorm threat today

By Matthew Cappucci and Ian Livingston   08/07/23  
A serious and uncommonly widespread outbreak of severe thunderstorms is expected in the eastern United States, affecting more than 50 million people from Georgia to New York. The storms could unleash destructive winds, hail and…
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Americans Are Moving Toward Climate Danger in Search of Cheaper Homes

By Leslie Kaufman   07/24/23  
A midsummer quiz: Let’s say you read about an area experiencing blistering heat for weeks on end. Heat so hot that in the day, you can’t go outside, and at nighttime it’s still above 90F.…
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National Inventory of Dams

07/20/23  
91,773Total Dams 61 years Average Dam Age
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Devastated farms tally losses from Western Mass. flooding

By Sarah Raza and Brian MacQuarrie   07/19/23  
The four brothers who run the Teddy C. Smiarowski Farm should be celebrating the centennial anniversary of the Pioneer Valley farm worked by their family for generations. Instead, they are tallying the damage from last…
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What this summer’s weather reveals about climate change

By Andrew Freedman   07/17/23  
Monitoring the planet's climate this summer can give one the impression that the climate system — which includes the oceans, atmosphere, ice sheets and more — has gone off the rails.
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Children lost in flooding as US endures extreme weather, from smoke up north to heat in the West

By Maryclaire Dale   07/17/23  
Pennsylvania authorities drew on 100 people, drones and cadaver dogs Monday in their search for two missing children whose family’s car was swept away in flash flooding that ravaged the East Coast over the weekend.…
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5 people were killed by raging floodwaters in southeastern Pennsylvania. 2 children are still missing

By Christina Maxouris and Others   07/16/23  
Authorities in southeastern Pennsylvania are searching for a 2-year-old girl and her 9-month-old brother who vanished in raging floodwaters as a violent storm slammed the region.
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New York Has $1.1 Billion to Fight Flooding. Will It Be Enough?

By Hilary Howard   07/15/23  
For Franco Montalto, a flooding expert and engineer, decades of research were suddenly amplified by a real-life emergency in the Adirondacks, where he and his family were on vacation this week.
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The dam near Montpelier held. As climate change brings stronger storms, experts fear many won’t.

By Sabrina Shankman   07/15/23  
As record rain pounded Montpelier for the second day and rivers raged far beyond their banks early last week, city leaders and first responders were awake deep into the night, huddled around a police station…
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Floods, fires and deadly heat are the alarm bells of a planet on the brink

By Sarah Kaplan   07/12/23  
The world is hotter than it’s been in thousands of years, and it’s as if every alarm bell on Earth were ringing. The warnings are echoing through the drenched mountains of Vermont, where two months…
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Flash Flooding Expected in Southern Arkansas and North Louisiana

By Lauren McCarthy   07/12/23  
Several flash flood warnings were issued for parts of Arkansas and Louisiana on Wednesday morning, following days of destructive flooding across the Northeast.
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Heat wave, flooding: Two of the biggest political stories of the week

By Olivier Knox   07/12/23  
You’re probably watching — and maybe living — two of the biggest political stories this week: The punishing heat wave across the West and South, and torrential rain drowning Vermont and upstate New York. But…
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When Climate Change Hits Home

By David Gelles   07/11/23  
Even if you’ve been paying attention to climate change, it can sometimes feel very far away, distant in both space and time. But on Sunday night, as I was writing my first edition of this…
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Flooding Closes Roads and Threatens Towns Through Much of Vermont

By Liam Stack, Jesse McKinley and Kristin Chapman   07/10/23  
Torrential rainfall and widespread flooding wreaked havoc in the river valleys and mountain towns of Vermont and New York State on Monday, ravaging communities and drawing comparisons to the devastation of Tropical Storm Irene more…
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A Drone and a Crane Save the Day as China Reels From Extreme Weather

By Mike Ives and Olivia Wang   07/05/23  
China and several other Asia Pacific countries were reeling from monsoonal floods and stultifying temperatures on Wednesday, the latest disruptions in what forecasters say could be a long summer and autumn of extreme weather around…
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‘It’s a disaster’: California farmer faces ordeal as pistachio farm sits underwater

By Ian James   07/02/23  
A few years ago, Makram Hanna took his savings from years of work in real estate and decided to make a big investment together with relatives and two other families. They bought 1,270 acres of…
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Climate Change Can Turn Snow Into Rain, Raising Risks in Mountain Zones

By Delger Erdenesanaa   06/28/23  
As the climate warms, mountain regions will get more extreme rainfall than previously thought, and more of the dangers that come with it, according to a study published on Wednesday in the journal Nature.
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Billions in federal infrastructure spending could be wasted due to outdated government rainfall models

By Diana Olick   06/26/23  
Billions of dollars in federal funding from the Biden administration’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act could be wasted because state highway and bridge projects are using an outdated government precipitation model to determine future flood…
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Study shows federal weather model underplays flooding, putting infrastructure spending at risk

By Zack Colman   06/26/23  
The federal government is relying on an outdated weather model that is putting hundreds of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending at risk, according to a study by climate research firm First Street Foundation.
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The places in the U.S. most at risk for extreme rainfall

By Kevin Crowe, John Muyskens and Brady Dennis   06/26/23  
Kim Schultz still struggles to describe how hard and fast the rain fell in her corner of southern Indiana that afternoon last September. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Never,” she recalled. Relentless rainfall inundated…
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Intensifying Rains Pose Hidden Flood Risks Across the U.S.

By Raymond Zhong   06/26/23  
As climate change intensifies severe rainstorms, the infrastructure protecting millions of Americans from flooding faces growing risk of failures, according to new calculations of expected precipitation in every county and locality across the contiguous United…
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What central Florida is doing to avert disastrous flooding when the next big hurricane hits

By Brady Dennis   06/19/23  
From their front porch on Ronnie Circle, Clara and Julius Amos keep close tabs on the bulldozers, excavators and dump trucks at work just down the street. A $23 million project to deepen several nearby…
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Utah allocates millions to prepare for flood damage after wet winter

By Sam Metz   05/18/23  
As the winter’s record snowpack melts and cascades down from the Rockies, Utah lawmakers on Wednesday set aside millions of dollars to prepare for potentially historic flooding. The state is among the many in the…
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Historic flooding in Fort Lauderdale was a sign of things to come – a look at who is most at risk and how to prepare

By Smitha Rao   04/27/23  
When a powerful storm flooded neighborhoods in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in April with what preliminary reports show was 25 inches of rain in 24 hours, few people were prepared. Even hurricanes rarely drop that much…
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Mississippi River flooding prompts evacuations, sandbagging

By Scott Mcfetridge and Todd Richmond   04/27/23  
Some residents along the swelling Upper Mississippi River evacuated their homes this week while others scrambled Wednesday to stack sandbags in preparation for what forecasters say could be near-record flooding caused by the rapid melting…
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Snow melt, predicted flooding to close Yosemite National Park for at least 5 days

By Dan Stillman   04/26/23  
Spring is the “perfect season” to see waterfalls as warmer weather melts winter snow, according to the Yosemite National Park website. This year, however, the threat of flooding from that same melting snow will close…
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Mississippi River flooding: Prairie Du Chien community works together to fill sandbags, place around homes

By Leah Rivard and Duaa Israr   04/25/23  
Floodwaters are creeping up towards homes in Prairie Du Chien, as the Mississippi River rises closer to its expected crest of around 24 feet. Volunteers and residents have spent the past few days filling and…
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The Mississippi River Is Flooding Cities Throughout the Midwest

By Angely Mercado   04/25/23  
The Mississippi River is overflowing and flooding riverbanks and roads in states across the Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
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Parts of California face ‘flooding emergency’ as storm kills at least 2

By Scott Dance and Others   03/10/23  
At least two people died Friday as heavy rain fell on a deep snowpack, causing life-threatening flooding in parts of California and prompting evacuation orders. The latest powerful atmospheric river — a fire hose of…
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Where U.S. house prices may be most overvalued as climate change worsens

By Brady Dennis   02/16/23  
The nation’s real estate market has yet to fully account for the increasing threats to millions of homes from rising seas, stronger storms and torrential downpours, according to new research published Thursday.
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Black Residents Bear Brunt of FEMA Failings

02/16/23  
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s failure to account for systemic racism and climate change is compounding the harm caused by those interconnected phenomena, Prism reports. FEMA, tasked with preparing for and responding to major floods…
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Weeks of Storms Test California’s Approach to Taming Nature

By Christopher Flavelle   01/12/23  
As California battles a third week of lashing rain and snow that have flooded communities, broken levees and toppled power lines, the state is facing questions about whether its approach to handling crippling storms is…
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Potent atmospheric river storm threatens California with flooding, heavy snow

By Rebecca Falconer   01/04/23  
Californians reeling from a deadly major storm over the weekend are bracing for an even more dangerous atmospheric river event that's set to bring widespread flooding and powerful winds across the state Wednesday and Thursday.
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Los Angeles County seeks flood control improvements in face of climate change

By Louis Sahagun   12/06/22  
Catastrophic flooding prompted civic leaders and engineers a century ago to begin taming the Los Angeles Basin’s rambunctious rivers with dams, storm drains and concrete. Now, scientists warn that, in a warming world, the region…
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Babcock Ranch: Solar-powered “hurricane-proof” town takes direct hit from Hurricane Ian, never loses electricity

10/09/22  
While hard-hit Fort Myers, Florida, continues its recovery from Hurricane Ian, some hope can be found 12 miles to the northeast at the planned community of Babcock Ranch. That's where Syd Kitson and his partners…
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Persistent Rains Pummel Chicago, Submerging Roads and Swamping Basements

By Julie Bosman   09/11/22  
Torrential, unrelenting rains swept through Chicago on Sunday, flooding basements and alleys, closing grocery stores and restaurants, and leaving cars floating under viaducts on streets impassable with deep water.
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In flooded Kentucky, schools race to rebuild

By Emily Cochrane   08/28/22  
This school year was, finally, supposed to be a return to normal. But after floodwaters wrecked homes and schools across the region, simply getting started will be a challenge.
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