FM Global has published the Global Flood Map (or Global FM - fans of palindromes, rejoice). It is a free-to-use flood map that covers most of the world. The flood map is delivered through an easy-to-use portal, and is offered in the spirit of building awareness around flood risk. We here at the Risks of Hazard are excited to see it out there (especially since we like palindromes).
Let’s take a look at what the flood map has to offer.
Upon inspection, it looks like a fluvial flood map, as the flood zones are concentrated around inland waterways. We can tell it’s not a surge map, because Tampa is not totally covered. There’s a way to check if it’s pluvial, too – Columbia SC. In 2015 their flooding was caused by incredible amounts of rain, and the whole city basically was underwater – the flood map has the high risk areas tightly following the rivers through town. So, it is not a pluvial map. Fluvial it is.
As anyone who has evaluated a flood map knows, the first place to check is one’s own house, because everyone knows it never floods (right?). Sure enough, my place is not in a high risk zone. Check.
Moving on, the next place any flood map should be checked in the US is New Orleans, and the whole city had better be high risk – sure enough, it is. The FEMA FIRMs fail this test, by the way.
Outside the US, there are a few key places to check out, like the Czech Republic. Prague has had big floods in the past 20 years or so, so there had better be big flood zones through the Bohemian capital – and yep, there are. The Vltava has significant flood defense now, and the flood map there suggests they have taken the defenses into account.
Another good flood place to check is the Thames Valley in the U.K., maybe Reading. That is a consistently flooded part of the consistently flooded country. Yep – big and wide flood zones there.
Finally, let’s look at the Chao Praya, upriver from Bangkok, and the location of dire floods in 2011 that crippled the national economy – and yep, the flood zone there are enormous (as they should be).
Overall, the Global Flood Map looks like a good global river flood inundation map. The fact that FM Global has undertaken the expense and effort to build it, and then publish it for free is commendable, because flood risk awareness is a key to solving the protection gap, in the US and everywhere. So, thank you FM Global!