Both climate change and development around them changed the distribution of rainfall and how much the ground absorbs (or doesn't absorb). It's hard to make rational and economically-viable plans when so much that is out of your control is changing.
Ironically, the City of Boulder Flood Hazard Map was updated in 2013 to reflect changes in modeling and the built environment. The results were submitted to FEMA in September 2013.
As a result of the proposed floodplain boundary changes, 106 buildings would no longer be affected by the 100-year floodplain, 76 buildings would be newly affected, and 565 buildings would remain in the floodplain. As the data is refined and public input is received, these numbers may change slightly, but the general trends will remain the same. Changes to the floodplain maps can affect flood insurance requirements.The last week or so have been the ultimate model validation experiment. As a modeler, I should be excited. But I have no appetite for it right now.
Take a look at the soil in this slow-motion mudslide. Boulder canyon, and its side canyons, also suffered from recent wildfires. Not only was there no vegetation to hold the soil in place, but a blanket of ash prevented water from soaking into the ground.
- Dr Jeff Masters has a good summary and a great list of scientific links.
- Compare and contrast media coverage and number of deaths in Boulder vs. Mexico in recent flash floods.
- Dr Ricky Rood interrupted his series about the Arctic Oscillation (AO) to discuss the Boulder floods and it's connection to AO.
- Some people falsely frame the debate by admitting that climate change is happening, but it is too expensive to do anything about it. Dr Rood's AO series explains why climate change is more expensive. If you have time to read one thing, I cannot recommend it enough.
Hermosa Beach's sister city of Loreto suffered the collapse of two bridges (including one major throughfare) in torrential rain this summer.
When I lived in Colorado, people who like to point out government incompetence often cited the statistic that Colorado spends more per mile on road maintenance than any other state. I looked at the climate data and thought, of course. Colorado used to be the only state where the daily average highs are above freezing while the daily average lows for 5-6 months of the year were below freezing. Thus, Colorado infrastructure experiences more freeze and thaw cycles than those in any other state.
Who should pay for rebuilding and retro-fitting for climate change? The people who live in harm's way? Or the people who dumped the most carbon in the atmosphere?