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flood photo
Significant inundation events ravage communities

NOAA and Inundation

What is Inundation?

Inundation is a condition in which water covers normally dry land, primarily caused by severe events along rivers or the coast. There are three primary phenomena which cause significant inundation.

Why is Understanding and Predicting Inundation Important?

The 2004 Sumatran Tsunami and the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons illustrated the devastating impacts rare but extreme inundation events can have. Annual inland flooding has a significant impact as well; in most years it causes more damage than any other weather-related event, and an average of 93 people lose their lives to inland floods per year. The most severe consequence of inundation is loss of life; inundation-related deaths make up the largest portion of natural hazard-related deaths in this country. Furthermore, damages to property caused by inundation have significant economic impact. Three-fourths of all presidential disaster declarations are associated with flooding. Inland floods routinely cause more damage annually than any other severe weather event – averaging $6.9 billion for the period 1976-2006.

While the science of inundation is generally understood, NOAA research is focused on minimizing the impacts of inundation by improving forecasts and predictive models, enhancing communication of risks and vulnerability, and providing decision support tools to enable planning for both evacuation and land-use. NOAA strives to more accurately model the phenomena that cause inundation, better predict where it will occur, and systematically map the areas that are vulnerable in order to prevent loss of life and minimize damage to property and ecosystems.

What are Key Research Needs?

Forecasts

Observations

Communication and Assessments

graph showing impacts
Impacts of recent extreme inundation events

What NOAA Research is Enhancing Inundation Mitigation?

Tsunamis

Storm Surge

Inland Floods

NOAA Requirements