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A look at Texas' flooding with the WRI Flood Analyzer

Katie Richard on

In May, Texas experienced record rainfall of 37.3 trillion gallons of water, doubling the previous record. The rainfall caused flooding, damage to residential, business and government buildings across Texas. The estimated economic impact of the flooding in the Houston area alone is expected to range from $200 million to $550 million.The Houston Business Journal reports have indicated that at least 24 people died in the state due to flooding. The National Weather Service forecasters estimated the event was approximately a 200-year flood event (indicating that the probability of a flood of this size in a year is 1 in 200). A great visualization of the amount of water that fell in Texas in 30 days was created for Washington Post’s article, see below.

Visualized Rainfall in Texas

The Global Flood Analyzer tool that we built for the World Resources Institute helps visualize the avoidable costs for urban damage, affected population and GDP for floods on a global scale. We took snapshots of a portion of the Gulf Coast Basin (an area heavily affected by the flooding in May) for 2-year flood protection and 200-year flood protection. You can see in the images and list below the expected and avoidable damage of flooding for the two levels. The darker blue indicates a higher probability for flooding on the map and the graphic indicates the expected and avoided annual damage. The global flood analyzer predicts that with a 200-year flood protection plan in place the avoided urban damages could be reduced by $28.7 billion dollars annually, a reduction in the affected population annually by 132,500 people, and preventing loss in GDP by $5.6 billion. You can use the WRI Global Flood Analyzer tool yourself here.

WRI Flood Analyzer Tool 2 year WRI Flood Analyzer Tool 200 year

Authorities have indicated that the current flood protection infrastructure built in the 1950s in Texas (over 2000 watershed dams) prevented $40 million dollars in damage. Utilizing the flood analyzer tool helps provide support and evidence for taking action for flood protection in the Gulf Coast Basin and other areas at risk worldwide. Local and federal authorities can investigate flood prediction and analysis to help create, update and promote flood protection plans aiming to mitigate damage and disaster from flooding. More rainfall is expected in Texas as hurricane season approaches, making it a vital time for Texan authorities to prioritize flood prevention and safety plans.