Flood Damage in the United States , 1926 – 2000: A Reanalysis of National Weather Service Estimates

  • Pielke R
  • Downton M
  • Miller J
  • 40

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Abstract

Flood damage continues to increase in the United States, despite extensive flood management efforts. To address the problem of increasing damage, accurate data are needed on costs and vulnerability associated with flooding. Unfortunately, the available records of historical flood damage do not provide the detailed information needed for policy evaluation, scientific analysis, and disaster mitigation planning. This study is a reanalysis of flood damage estimates collected by the National Weather Service (NWS) between 1925 and 2000. The NWS is the only organization that has maintained a long-term record of flood damage throughout the U.S. The NWS data are estimates of direct physical damage due to flooding that results from rainfall or snowmelt. They are obtained from diverse sources, compiled soon after each flood event, and not verified by comparison with actual expenditures. Therefore, a primary objective of the study was to examine the scope, accuracy, and consistency of the NWS damage estimates to improve the data sets and offer recommendations on how they can be appropriately used and interpreted.

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Authors

  • Roger a. Pielke

  • Mary W Downton

  • J Zoe Barnard Miller

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