Winter Weather Patterns Can Increase Risk For Flooding

February 3, 2012

Floods are a year-round hazard and do not end when cold weather begins. Areas that receive less snow and rain this winter season may later experience drought-like conditions that, when it does rain, can lead to flash flooding. The onset of seasonal rains and snowmelt can also lead to flooding.

Winter rainy season in the Pacific Northwest consistently delivers intense winter storms and the majority of annual precipitation to that region. Residents may also face an increased risk of flooding and mudslides because of recent wildfires that leave the ground charred and unable to absorb excess water generated by rain and snow.

Across the country, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast, heavy snowfall, ice jams, rapid snowmelt, and intense rainstorms caused by fluctuating temperatures can all increase the likelihood and the severity of localized flooding.

“When it comes to reducing the vulnerability to natural disasters, the whole community has a role to play, and that includes individual citizens,” said David Miller, associate administrator for FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. “One of the most critical ways residents can protect their homes and businesses from the severe weather that may cause flooding is to obtain flood insurance.”

Many people mistakenly believe that their homeowners insurance covers flood damage. Only flood insurance financially protects properties from flooding, which is the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster.

Between 2006 and 2010, the average flood claim was nearly $34,000. That’s more than many survivors can afford to pay out of pocket for damages due to flooding. While no one wants a flood to impact them, with federally backed flood insurance, citizens have an important financial safety net to help cover costs to repair or rebuild if a flood should strike.

SOURCE: FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program

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