4.4 Understanding US Flood Fatalities — A Review of Recent Flood Fatalities and the Decisions That Led to Them

Friday, 23 June 2017: 2:15 PM
Salon II (InterContinental Kansas City at the Plaza)
Todd J. Shea, NOAA/NWS, La Crosse, WI

Flooding continues to be one of the leading weather-related killers in the United States, with a 30-year average of 82 fatalities per year. In fact, that number reached 100 several times from 2010-2016, and exceeded a staggering 150 fatalities in each of the past two years. A majority of these deaths continue to involve driving into high water – a behavior and choice that is sometimes difficult to understand with improved warning services, improved communication, and improved technology. This leads to the fundamental question - what steps can be taken to lower the number of flood-related fatalities?

Related to a project of tracking preliminary flood-related deaths at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in La Crosse, WI, flood fatality demographics have been studied over the past seven years (2010-2016) detailing age, gender, month, and activity related to cause of death. Also, case examples are studied in more detail to learn behaviors that led to these fatal choices.

This presentation will provide an overview of these more recent demographics, examine trends in the data, and review several case studies to help examine what the entire warning community can do to reduce the number of flood-related deaths.

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