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The First Look at Severe Rainfall Impacts in Maryland

The Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership (ESCAP) is the first group in Maryland to undertake a close look at the impacts of severe rainfall patterns. Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, in partnership with University of Maryland, recently completed a study on behalf of ESCAP, which includes policy recommendations to help local governments protect their communities against climate-induced precipitation. These recommendations span across stormwater, agriculture, transportation, public safety, and environment/water quality.

The 2020 extreme precipitation report builds on 2018’s sea level rise study to give an enhanced view of how the Eastern Shore will be living with additional water due to climate change in the years to come. Given the rise in awareness of the impacts of climate change throughout Maryland, these reports serve as significant planning tools that will enable Eastern Shore communities to mitigate risk and adapt to future conditions.

The report is available to view under the “Resources” section at: https://www.eslc.org/people/

Report Description

There is a broad trend of heavier, more frequent rainfall across the county with significant impact on communities. Maryland’s Eastern Shore is one of the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of these events, and a study released by Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) finds that communities should expect the trend to continue in the coming decades.

“We are very excited for the release of the extreme precipitation study,” says Jim Bass, ESLC’s Coastal Resilience Program Manager. “The Eastern Shore is going to be living with a lot more water in the future – both from sea level rise and from increased rainfall. This report helps us plan for those future conditions and be informed about the increased risk of flooding.”

Titled “Preparing for Increases in Extreme Precipitation Events in Local Planning and Policy on Maryland’s Eastern Shore” the study assists local governments in planning for the impacts of “extreme precipitation” or abnormally high rainfall on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

The study was written on behalf of Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership (ESCAP) – a regional workgroup of local government staff, partners from the State of Maryland, academic institutions, and nonprofits. The ESCAP assists communities in reducing climate vulnerabilities and risks; collects and shares information among communities and decision makers; and educates members, residents, and elected leaders on risks and adaptation strategies. It also serves to raise the visibility and voice of the Eastern Shore and rural regions in conversations about adaptation and resilience.

Research for this project was conducted by scientists at the University of Maryland. Dr. Kaye Brubaker, director of the Maryland Water Resources Research Center, led a team who analyzed multiple climate projections for our region to develop a detailed look at how more precipitation will fall faster and more regularly in the future. ESLC also developed policy recommendations for local governments to adopt in their planning and legislative processes which will help mitigate flooding and manage increased stormwater volume.

Other golden nuggets from the report include location trends which demonstrate intensifying rainfall most significantly in the southern part of the Eastern Shore region, recommendations on stormwater infrastructure upgrades, and the fact that this report applies to multiple sectors including stormwater, agriculture, transportation, public safety, and environment/water quality.

“The results of this report show that climate change is bringing more rain to the Eastern Shore. We also know that sea levels will be roughly two feet higher by 2050 and six feet higher by 2100. Taken together, increased precipitation plus sea level rise means a significant increase in future flood risk across the region. It is imperative that we take steps today to mitigate and adapt to the flood risks projected for the future,” says Jim Bass.

For speaking opportunities, interviews, copies of the report, or more info about this study, ESCAP or ESLC’s coastal resilience program, please contact ESLC Coastal Resilience Program Manager, Jim Bass at jbass@eslc.org or 410.690.4603 x156

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