California’s new map of coastal flooding is raising questions about planning for the next disaster

New tsunami hazard maps highlight threat facing seven California counties — even Napa, which is not used in the U.S. model — by sea level rise, storm surge and other problems

A year after California’s deadliest disaster in its history, the state needs updated disaster plans for a future with more devastating disasters and growing risks from climate change.

A new federal report is raising questions about whether California’s planning for the next disaster is adequate.

“We’re not out of the woods, in terms of the types of disasters we’re going to keep getting,” said Dan Brimhall, California’s coastal resource manager. “It doesn’t mean these are the same kinds of disasters as last year.”

The U.S. government released the 2015 National Drought Atlas on Friday, making it the third year in a row that a report on coastal flooding was released at the same time as a report on coastal drought.

(MORE: Climate Change Debunks Myths About Sea Level Rise, Flooding, and Drought)

The maps released today were based on data from two climate models and a series of “what if” scenarios, but the report also noted that some people may consider using the maps as a planning tool:

“They provide a snapshot of the flood hazards for an area at a particular time of the year and for a particular sea level rise scenario.”

“While they may not provide an accurate picture of the impacts of coastal flooding and coastal erosion in the future, there is a growing body of research that suggests that even under the extreme climate forecasts for the 21st century, climate-related risks are likely to increase substantially more than those we have already seen … and many of the most severe and extreme sea level rise and storm surge events are yet to come,” the report’s authors wrote.

The California Coastal Commission received a draft of the new report earlier this month, but the State Lands Commission got the final report on Friday.

This year, the State Lands Commission is tasked with developing an update of California’s strategic plan for managing climate change risk in the state, which was first drafted in 1994.

(MORE: California’s Climate Plan Lacks Many of the Tools for Planning)

A previous draft

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