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Design Storms

Infrastructure have historically been designed to a level of weather-related risk that is sometimes characterized as a design storm. In general, the term design storm has come to refer to the intensity of an extreme weather-related event that infrastructure are able to withstand and remain function. We often think of a design storm in terms of the 100 year event. As climate change introduces uncertainty and variability into extreme events, there is growing concern about the default use of design storms to protect infrastructure. In addition to a less frequent event becoming more frequent, the variability in events also becomes a challenge with climate change. As such, there is reason to not only understand how design storms might change into the future, but also assess how the process of using design storms in infrastructure management should potentially change.

Project Members


  • Studying changing design storms and their effects on infrastructure, against changing precipitation forecasts, across the US.
  • Cataloguing how the “design storm” concept appears across infrastructure and hazards including power, water, and transportation systems.
  • Creating analysis of future changes in precipitation design storms across network cities.
  • Studying transitions from risk- to resilience-based design process for infrastructure.
  • Examining design storm standards relative to climate forecasts in New York City, and effects on infrastructure.