Regional Extremes Database and Event Maps
Extreme events cause the majority of societal costs related to weather and climate and can provoke adaptive responses. WWA has begun a new focus that is designed to place extreme events in the context of historical climate variability and projected climate change, assess how risk varies over time and space, and examine how extreme events interact with place-based vulnerability. The first activity in this new research theme has been to build a database of historical extreme weather and climate events in the WWA three-state region (Colorado, Utah and Wyoming). This regional extremes database is intended to be useful to hazard planners and emergency managers trying to identify where and when the risk for different types of extreme events is greatest. It will also serve as a foundation for further research on what leads to the variation in risk over time and space. Two databases have been compiled: a selective roster of ~160 of the highest-impact weather and climate events in the three-state region back to the mid-1800s, and a more comprehensive dataset from culled from the NOAA NCEI Storm Events Database focused on the post-1950 period that includes over 20,000 weather events. The roster of high-impact events has been reviewed by all three of the state climate offices in our region, and as of spring 2016 is available on the WWA website. From the larger dataset of storm events, we generated a set of monthly occurrence maps, by county, for ten different event types, and these are also available on the WWA website. We are currently reaching out to stakeholders to solicit suggestions to refine these products and apply the data.