Amy McIntosh is the managing editor of Storm Water Solutions. McIntosh can be reached at [email protected]
May 10, 2016

Expecting the Unexpected

No matter where you live, you generally know what to expect in terms of weather. Living in a large, Midwestern city like Chicago, I know the threat of a blizzard is not only possible, but probable, and chances of a hurricane rolling through are slim to none. And until recently, I incorrectly assumed my move from the suburbs to the city meant my surroundings were tornado-proof. But new research in Australia indicates that what we know to be true about our cities' rainfall patterns might be changing in the coming years. 

In a recent study from the University of New South Wales, engineers reported that as the climate gets warmer, cities will face more concentrated rainfall that will draw storms into narrow bands of intense downpours. The report builds on a previous study indicating that storms are decreasing in length. With storms covering smaller areas in shorter periods of time, the risk of flash flooding increases, according to the researchers. This will put added stress on cities’ storm water infrastructure, which generally is not equipped to deal with such intense rainfall. Thus, it is important for municipalities to examine existing infrastructure and regulatory measures and consider their future resilience.

What is your city doing to prepare for a possible increase in flash flooding events? Have you seen any innovative best practices at work? Let us know in the comments, or at [email protected]