Unusually Usual:
Extreme Rainfall Events On The Rise

Above: Michael Dutter describes rain patterns during Hurricane Mathew.

“It’s challenging, the short answer is that it’s challenging,” said Mike Dutter. “You get the sea water coming in through the mouth and up the storm water drains because of sea level rise, and then you have all the rain washing into the Bay.” Dutter, a science operations officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was responding to a question posed by Dr. Tal Ezer a professor of ocean, earth, and atmospheric sciences at Old Dominion University about overlapping sea level rise models with high precipitation models. “We’re still working on it,” he added. “There are some efforts ongoing to overlap the tidal models with the precipitation models.

The exchange came at the end of Dutter’s presentation on modeling and managing extreme precipitation, the theme of the most recent Hampton Roads Adaptation Forum. With extreme precipitation becoming unusually usual, scientists are trying to develop prediction models so that cities that are prone to regular flooding might be able to anticipate when the next 25-year rainstorm will hit… something that is becoming a more regular event with climate change.

Organized by Old Dominion University’s (ODU) Assistant Professor of Practice for the Virginia Sea Grant (VASG) Climate Adaptation and Resilience Program Michelle Covi, and hosted by VASG, ODU, and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission plan, these quarterly meetings bring together professionals in adaptation including local municipal government staff, scientific experts, private sector engineers, state and federal agency staff, NGOs and other stakeholders to facilitate regional coordination, information exchange and share adaptation best practices. The think-tank-like discussions have built a network of professionals that share information, adaptation lessons learned, and provide an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss science and policy in informal settings.


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