“Rain Bombs” Highlight Need for Precipitation Database

What's needed is a nationwide survey of rainfall estimates.
April 14, 2021

There is no comprehensive, national precipitation database with more frequent “rain bombs” that can dump up to seven inches of water in hours. Design standards for roads, storm-water systems, dams, and construction regulations — even whether a home is in a flood plain and requires flood insurance — are based on precipitation estimates. This illustrates the need for a nationwide survey of rainfall estimates.

In many states, those standards no longer accurately portray the risk to infrastructure intended to last decades. Many states rely on rainfall estimates, known as Atlas 14, that are produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Some other places have funded rainfall estimates leading to higher design standards. But rural and poorer communities are unable to afford such studies

Last year, the United States saw arecord 22 weather events that cost at least $1 billion each in damages. Seven were landfall hurricanes, according to NOAA.

Navigate in this section: