Water hazards are something that every property owner should be aware of and whether you own a home or a business, you need to know how water can damage your property. There’s nothing worse than you’re property being flooded and not knowing your property was at risk until the water has ruined your belongings or caused extensive damage to the structure.
Water hazards come in many forms from flooding, storm surges, hurricanes/typhoons, heavy rainstorms (deluges), coastal erosion, tsunamis/storm waves. In all cases, the damage can be devastating. Water damage can also come from inside your property in the form of Frozen Pipes and Ice Dams, both of which can cause an “internal flood” that can cause thousands of dollars of damage.
Luckily, HazardHub provides the tools to create a comprehensive view of water risk at your property!
Let’s Talk About a Few Water Hazards!
FEMA Digital Flood Zones
FEMA Flood Zones, also known as Special Flood Hazard Area or SFHA for short, are established by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to identify areas at high risk of flooding due to topography and/or man-made alterations like dams, levees, and bridges.
When purchasing a property it is critical to know if you are in an area of high risk of flood, as flood damage is not covered by most insurance policies. If you are inside of a 100 Yr Flood Zone and have a mortgage, flood insurance is required.
At HazardHub, we maintain the most recent version of FEMA’s flood maps. Our API lets you instantly determine whether a property is in a FEMA Flood Zone, the type of zone, and whether the community participates in programs to mitigate flood risk. Our FEMA flood data is one of the most comprehensive datasets available today.
Enhanced and Catastrophic Flood Risk
As we’ve seen in flooding events in Houston and Nashville, sometimes an area is subjected to intense amounts of precipitation that are far in excess of the “maximum” precipitation expected for an area. With such an intense volume of water, previously “safe” areas like small creeks, streams, and even ponds can quickly turn into floodwaters.
While FEMA’s flood zone data is great for “normal” flood return periods, what happens when an unusual amount of rain falls at your property?
For these unusual events, HazardHub provides our Enhanced Flood Risk Model and our Catastrophic Flood Risk Model:
- Enhanced Risk Model – What happens when the potential maximum precipitation falls on an area?
- Catastrophic Risk – What happens when TWICE the potential maximum precipitation falls on an area?
While most people think of floods as coming from rivers, sometimes the floodwaters come from the ocean. This is called “Storm Surge.”
Storm Surges are usually produced by hurricanes, where the intense winds, pressure variations and circular storm motion cause a wall of water that builds along the leading edge of the system. If the storm turns the right way, that water “surges” over the land.
HazardHub Storm Surge Model looks at 5 levels of intensity, where Level 1 can cause impact from smaller storms, while Level 5 is reserved for the most intense storms. HazardHub also provides the potential inundation level, which gives an estimate of how high the water will be at your property.
The key is for property owners to be proactive against flooding from Hurricane Storm Surges. This means making plans ahead of time for how they would handle this type of flood event by identifying potential risks on their properties. The more prepared you are in advance, the less stressful it will be when disaster strikes! You can also create an evacuation plan so that if things get worse than expected, you already know what needs to happen next.
Sea Level Rise
Sea Level Rise is one of the most feared potential outcomes of climate change. As the Earth’s climate continues to change, ocean levels may rise and flooding may become more severe. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) estimates that seas are rising at approximately 1/8″ per year.
The two major causes of global sea-level rise are thermal expansion caused by warming of the ocean (since water expands as it warms) and increased melting of land-based ice, such as glaciers and ice sheets. Higher sea levels mean that storm surges can push even further inland, while nuisance flooding – like those caused by king tides – can increase in frequency.
Property owners and municipalities both need to be aware of how Sea Level Rise Affects them so they can prepare and plan accordingly.
HazardHub’s Sea Level Rise database provides the impact for between 1 foot and 10 feet of Sea Level Rise.
Frozen pipes are a common problem that many property owners have to deal with. They are caused by a lack of insulation and can cause pipes to burst, rendering the home uninhabitable for weeks or even months while they’re waiting for service repair which might not be available on short notice due to inclement weather.
You are at risk if you live in an area that has below freezing temperatures for an extended period of time. HazardHub looks at both the severity and duration of long-run weather events to make a hyper-local determination of frozen pipe risk.
Ice Dams are a ridge of ice that forms along your roofline. When water tries to run off your roof, it can get blocked and backed up by the ice. This backed-up water can then leak into your property, causing extensive damage to your roof, attic, ceilings, and walls. The fact that it usually happens when it’s really cold outside only compounds the misery.
HazardHub uses long-run weather data from more than 7,000 weather stations to create hyper-local risk estimates for Ice Dam formation.