A climatological assessment of flood events in Georgia
Dobur, Jeffrey C.
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Almost every year, flooding impacts Georgia. In April of 2000, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency reported that nearly 75 percent of Georgia’s disaster losses since 1990 had been linked to flooding with an estimated 2 billion dollars in total damage. Flooding in Georgia is wide-ranging and impacts areas from the coastal regions to the mountains at various times of the year. In addition, most flooding events can be characterized by the temporal and spatial distribution of precipitation events. The climatology of flooding in Georgia was studied in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the spatial and temporal distribution of flooding events. Utilizing the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) monthly publication entitled Storm Data, flooding events across Georgia from 1987 to 2003 were organized into three categories. These categories were “Small-scale Flooding”, which included isolated short duration flood events generally associated with mesoscale weather, “Large-scale Flooding”, which included long duration widespread flood events generally associated with synoptic rainfall events, and “Tropical Flooding”, which were associated with inland tropical systems. In addition, analysis of Georgia’s flood fatalities from 1987 to 2003 was completed. Data showed that a large proportion of small scale events occurred in the summer months in the afternoon with most events occurring in urbanized areas. Large scale events generally occurred in the winter and spring transition season and were most evident in the Atlanta Urban Area. Data showed that tropical events were evenly distributed between the summer and fall seasons. Tropical-scale events were also more likely in the Eastern Uplands and Eastern Coastal Plain. From 1987 to 2003, Storm Data reported 53 flood fatalities in Georgia with a large proportion as a result of Tropical Storm Alberto in July 1994. The National Weather Service Forecast Office and the Southeast River Forecast Center in Peachtree City, Georgia hopes that this increase in knowledge will lead to a better understanding of flooding in Georgia resulting in improved flood forecasts for the future.