Major weather events drive a lot of business for restoration contractors. Being able to better plan for these events can help contractors run their restoration businesses more efficiently. A pair of tools are designed to forecast natural disasters, which can help in this area.
NOAA recently completed a comprehensive update to its Billion Dollar Disasters mapping tool. The tool now includes U.S. census tract data, providing many users with local community-level awareness of hazard risk, exposure and vulnerability across more than 100 combinations of weather and climate hazards.
The enhanced interactive maps from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) cover all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and provide data for over 72,000 U.S. census tracts, which are small subdivisions of counties that average about 4,000 inhabitants. Users can now visualize a community’s combined physical exposure, socioeconomic vulnerability and markers of resilience to natural hazards on a finer scale than ever before.
The census tract data builds on county-level data added to the mapping tool last year. The weather and climate hazards displayed through the tool include severe storms and tornadoes; drought events and heat waves; hurricanes and tropical storms; wildfires; river-basin and urban flooding; and winter storms, freeze events and cold waves.
First Street Foundation released the First Street Foundation Wildfire Model. This nationwide model provides wildfire risk projections for specific properties in the contiguous United States. It offers analysis of the risk individual properties face from damaging wildfires today, and up to 30 years in the future as a result of climate changes.
Nationwide, the report finds nearly 20 million properties face “Moderate” risk, (up to a 6% chance of experiencing a wildfire over 30 years); 6 million properties face “Major” risk (up to 14% risk over 30 years); nearly 3 million face “Severe” risk (up to 26% over 30 years); and approximately 1.5 million face “Extreme” risk (greater than 26% risk over 30 years). Over 49 million properties face less than 1% chance of experiencing a wildfire over a 30-year period, or “Minor” risk in the model.
Wildfire has become one of the most common and dangerous climate perils, increasingly spreading from heavily forested areas to more populous urban and suburban environments. According to NOAA, damage associated with wildfires has grown substantially, with $81.7 billion, or 66% of all direct losses since 1980, occurring in the last five years.
First Street Foundation will make this critical wildfire risk information available to users for free through Risk Factor, where Fire Factor data will be presented alongside Flood Factor and other future threats. Like Flood Factor, Fire Factor data will be integrated into Realtor.com
“The lack of a property specific, climate adjusted wildfire risk for individual properties has severely hindered everyone from the federal government to your average American,” said Matthew Eby, founder and executive director of First Street Foundation. “As a changing climate drives more frequent and severe wildfire events, Fire Factor will prove critical in ensuring everyone has the insights they need to understand their personal risk to avoid and protect against the devastating impact of a wildfire.”Building the model brought together top climate and data scientists, technologists, and modelers from other leading organizations; the Spatial Informatics Group, Reax Engineering, and Eagle Rock Analytics who are members of the Pyregrence Consortium as well as the USGS, and architectural design & engineering consulting group Arup. This group combined decades of peer reviewed research and expertise in next-generation modeling techniques to create an open source, freely available wildfire model that accounts for current and future climate conditions.