If you have experienced or heard of a 100-year flood, you might think that there won’t be a flood like this in another 99 years, but you are wrong.
Meteorologists use the 100-year flood label to say that there is a one in 100, or one percent, chance that a flood of this magnitude could occur in any given year. So a 500-year flood has a one in 500 chance, or 0.002 percent chance of occurring each year. This means if a city has a 500-year flood, as Houston did in 2017, it has the same chance of having another 500-year flood the next year.
In Houston, 500-year floods keep reoccurring over the years. Houston is the United State’s fourth-largest city. As the city keeps growing, more wetlands are being removed to make space for buildings. However, wetlands help absorb floodwater, making floods less destructive. The creation of more buildings came with the cost of the massive destruction by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey.
Part of the destructive power of Hurricane Harvey also stemmed from climate change. Climate change did not cause Harvey, but it did make the hurricane worse. Natural disasters worldwide are getting worse and more out of hand. Events like these are happening more often. “What used to be, say, a 1,000-year event (like [Superstorm] Sandy or perhaps Harvey) is now, say a 30-year event” warned Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University.
Hurricane Harvey was a destructive hurricane that resulted in costly damage and the death of many people. If we could find a way to conserve more wetlands and slow down climate change, we could reduce the effects of many natural disasters and save many innocent lives.