Climate change barreling into Houston

Hundreds of thousands of homes are at risk of flooding and hurricane damage

A photo illustration of CoreLogic's Tom Larsen (Getty, CoreLogic, SC National Guard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

A photo illustration of CoreLogic’s Tom Larsen (Getty, CoreLogic, SC National Guard, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Hundreds of thousands of Houston homes are at risk with hurricane season ahead, and climate change may present additional long-term challenges

More than a third of Harris County falls within a FEMA-designated flood plain, and that figure is expected to rise, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing a study from market analytics firm CoreLogic.

More than 5,000 homes in Harris County were in danger of damage from storm surges and more than 327,000 were at risk from hurricane-force winds, the study found. Greater Houston had the second-highest number of homes at risk in the nation, only behind the New York metropolitan area.

In Texas, hurricanes and storm surges typically happen in coastal cities like Galveston. But climate change and other factors may contribute to an increase of such occurrences further inland, said Tom Larsen, senior director for CoreLogic Insurance Solutions.

“Because the rising tides — one of the key aspects of climate change — align with some of the changes in the hurricanes themselves. We are going to see a lot more coastal flooding and surge effects,” Larsen told the outlet.

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By 2050, there will be a 50 percent spike of homes at risk from storm surges in Harris County, CoreLogic estimates. It also projected a 40 percent increase of at-risk homes in the surrounding cities. Climate change is expected to lead to rising sea levels, more powerful storms and warmer atmospheric temperatures, the outlet said.

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The study, which factored in single-family homes and multifamily buildings, found that over 33 million residences in the U.S. were at risk of damage from hurricane winds exceeding 74 mph

For this year, weather experts predict it will be a relatively inactive hurricane season.

—Quinn Donoghue