Climate Change, Extreme Precipitation and Flooding

The Latest Science

Published Jul 2, 2018


Floods in inland areas are the most common type of natural disaster in the United States, and one of the most harmful to people and property. In 2017 alone 25 people lost their lives trapped in floods, and more than 3 billion dollars were lost in property damages and ruined crops.

Global warming is shifting rainfall patterns, making heavy rain more frequent in many areas of the country. With human alteration of the land—like the engineering of rivers, the destruction of natural protective systems, and increased construction on floodplains—many parts of the United States are at greater risk of experiencing destructive and costly floods.

This fact sheet presents a synopsis of the latest scientific findings on how rainfall and flooding patterns in the United States have changed and the causes of these changes. We also include a summary of possible changes to come, and recommendations for making communities more flood resilient. While coastal flooding and sea level rise are important parts of the complete picture of flood risk, this report focuses on inland flooding only.

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