Florida flood risk and western drought: Climate hazards in the US today

Parts of Florida are still at risk of flood nearly a week after Hurricane Ian made landfall

Ethan Freedman
Climate Reporter, New York
Tuesday 04 October 2022 17:13 BST
Remnants of Hurricane Ian bring flooding to the Jersey

The climate crisis is going to create all kinds of disasters in the coming decades as greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, heat up the planet and send the atmosphere into chaos. Those consequences are already plaguing millions of people in the US.

Alerts from the US federal government on daily climate hazards put millions of people under flood alerts on Tuesday, as ongoing drought still threatens much of the country.

Meanwhile, hurricane season is still going even after last week’s destructive Hurricane Ian – which left at least 100 people dead in Florida.

More than seven million Americans are under inland flooding alerts as rivers in central Florida remain at high water levels. While not much rain is forecast for the next few days, the overwhelming amount of water dumped by Hurricane Ian is still trickling through the water system and keeping areas near some rivers at risk of floods.

Another 31 million people live in areas with coastal flood risk. Much of the mid-Atlantic coast, from Long Island down through North Carolina is under flood alerts as the region faces another rainy day – the latest in a storm that has lasted since the weekend. An additional coastal flood alert has been issued for northeast Florida.

Drought continues to plague much of the country, especially in the West. More than 120 million Americans are currently living in drought conditions.

This includes parts of California, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Oregon under “exceptional drought,” the most extreme drought level, creating serious challenges for farmers and a very high risk of wildfires.

Parts of the northeast US are also facing dry weather, with some areas along the Massachusetts coast seeing “extreme drought”.

Finally, there are 300 active wildfires burning across the US, mainly in the West. That includes 72 large fires that have burned through more than 760,000 acres alone, larger than Yosemite National Park.

A UN climate science panel has warned that hazards like drought, heatwaves, floods, wildfires and intense storms are all likely to become more intense in the coming decades as the planet heats up.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in