Flood risks is changing in various parts of the country.

Flood risk rises in the North, recedes in the South

Flood patterns are beginning to change in the United States, according to a recent study by engineers at the University of Iowa. Specifically, the risk of minor to moderate flooding is rising in the North, and receding in the South.

Regional climate shifts may be at fault

"The risk of flooding in the northern half of the country has notably increased."

IU researchers found that the amount of water stored in the ground has gradually increased in northern areas of the country since 1985. Meanwhile, the amount of water stored in the ground in the southern, southwestern and western sections of the country has decreased.

While these findings come mere months after Louisiana experienced a 1,000-year rainfall event that left entire communities under water, many parts of South and Southwest are currently dealing with severe drought. As a result, there has been a net loss in the average amount of water stored in the ground in the southern half of the U.S. 

The increase in ground water in northern parts of the U.S., particularly in the Midwest and the Great Plains, is due to more rainfall in the past half-decade. As a result, the risk of flooding in the northern half of the country has notably increased. 

Interesting timing
In 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began updating its map of flood zones in the U.S. for the first time in three decades. So far, the process has been somewhat bumpy, with multiple erroneous reclassifications having already been documented and corrected. One of the most recent examples occurred in Ocean City, Maryland, where "insurance rates catapulted into six-digit figures," after FEMA classified an area protected by two large dunes as a "high flood hazard zone."

"The City Council proceeded with the only path available – completing a 'Letter of Map Revision,'" Ocean City Today's Katie Tabeling, wrote. "It also authorized hiring a consultant to help with individual properties for a $15,000 retainer." 

Areas that are located next to large bodies of water and are at a low elevation are typically at greatest risk of disastrous flooding events. However, earth with high water retention increases the risk of minor to moderate flooding events, which can result in significant loss for uninsured assets – regardless of whether that asset is in a federally designated flood zone. In the coming months and years, it wouldn't be surprising to see more commercial and residential property holders seek out consulting services for the sake of correcting flood zone status, or conversely, ensuring assets are protected in regions experiencing increased ground water retention.