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Darrian Bertrand and Mark Shafer

Abstract

State hazard mitigation plans guide state and local agencies in actions they may take to reduce their vulnerability to extreme events. However, because they are written for a general audience, they must be written in a way for a layperson to understand. In many cases, the people writing these plans are not meteorologists or do not have access to meteorological expertise. Consequently, descriptions of hazards may be taken from websites, other documents, or perhaps authoritative sources. This leads to inconsistencies in the way hazards are portrayed in the plans, which increases the difficulty of translating proposed actions to local governments or to other states.

This article delves into the issue of these variances and how it affects those who write state hazard mitigation plans. For this brief text, the hazards discussed in state plans that fall in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP)’s region are covered with a comparison of definitions from the National Weather Service (NWS) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS). States within the SCIPP region include Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This study found that it is more common for states to use key words from NWS and AMS hazard definitions than to use exact definitions. The goal of this article is to prompt a discussion about the inconsistency of terminology used in state hazard mitigation plans and to spread awareness of this issue so that future plans can keep their unique elements while providing a better description and understanding of the included hazards.

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Darrian Bertrand and Renee A. McPherson

Abstract

Hydrologic extremes of drought and flooding stress water resources and damage communities in the Red River basin, located in the south-central United States. For example, the summer of 2011 was the third driest summer in Oklahoma state history and the driest in Texas state history. When the long-term drought conditions ended in the spring of 2015 as El Niño brought record precipitation to the region, there were also catastrophic floods that caused loss of life and property. Hydrologic extremes such as these have occurred throughout the historical record, but decision-makers need to know how the frequency of these events is expected to vary in a changing climate so that they can mitigate these impacts and losses. Therefore, the goals of this study focus on how these hydrologic extremes impact water resources in the Red River basin, how the frequency of such events is expected to change in the future, and how this study can aid local water-resource managers and decision-makers. Heavy-precipitation events were defined at the historical 90th and 99th percentiles, and severe-drought events were identified at a threshold of the standardized precipitation evapotranspiration index’s value of less than or equal to −1. The results show an increase in the frequency of severe-drought events in the western Red River basin and a rise in heavy-rainfall events in the east by the end of the century, especially under RCP 8.5. Therefore, decision-makers and water-resource managers will likely need to prepare for both hydrologic extremes depending on their location within the basin.

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