Can You Trust Historical Weather Data To Assess Risk Any Longer?

Stephanie_2 The severe flooding across the Midwest has caused at least 24 deaths and while there are no exact estimates, the damages are expected to be in the billions of dollars. This is the second time in the last 15 years there has been a supposed “100 year flood” of the Mississippi River. The flooding has caused inestimable financial and emotional losses for residents, and some might not return to the area. Those businesses that do not directly rely on the Mississippi for their operations and the surrounding area – like shipping and farming -- need to decide if they’ll re-build in the flood plains of the Mississippi. The answer is likely no.

According to a recently published report by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “droughts, heavy downpours, excessive heat, and intense hurricanes are likely to become more commonplace as humans continue to increase the atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.” The report also indicated that there have been statistically significant increases in heavy precipitation (the heaviest 5%) and very heavy precipitation (the heaviest 1%) in the last three decades of the 20th century.

Standard 100 year historical data is becoming less helpful when it comes to assessing the risk of a particularly geography for the location of your corporate headquarters or new data center. Instead, businesses should take the last 100 years into account but pay special attention to the last 30-50 years of data and also assume the frequency of these events will increase.

By Stephanie Balaouras

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