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100-Year flood–it's all about chance

April 16, 2010

In the 1960's, the United States government decided to use the 1-percent annual exceedance probability (AEP) flood as the basis for the National Flood Insurance Program. The 1-percent AEP flood was thought to be a fair balance between protecting the public and overly stringent regulation. Because the 1-percent AEP flood has a 1 in 100 chance of being equaled or exceeded in any 1 year, and it has an average recurrence interval of 100 years, it often is referred to as the '100-year flood'. The term '100-year flood' is part of the national lexicon, but is often a source of confusion by those not familiar with flood science and statistics. This poster is an attempt to explain the concept, probabilistic nature, and inherent uncertainties of the '100-year flood' to the layman.

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