Where does the flood zone data come from?

RPR's flood zone maps come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) data. NFHL data incorporates all Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) databases published by FEMA, and any Letters Of Map Revision (LOMRs) that have been issued against those databases since their publication date. The DFIRM database is the digital, geospatial version of the flood hazard information shown on the published Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The primary risk classifications used are the 1-percent-annual-chance flood event, the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood event and areas of minimal flood risk. The NFHL data are derived from Flood Insurance Studies (FISs), previously published Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), flood hazard analyses performed in support of the FISs and FIRMs, and new mapping data where available. 

County coverage for the 2016 full year data set is available as an attachment to this article.

In addition to the flood zone maps that RPR displays, the flood zone designation for any given property is shown in the Summary tab of the Property Details page. See the Location Details section.

RPR's flood maps do not incorporate data from local municipalities that is not approved by FEMA.

RPR updates the FEMA data annually. Our data partner 3DL manages the data and exposes it to the RPR application via a web service. Variations in data availability from year to year are due to the changing nature of the flood maps, given that studies and updates are continually in progress. When a new study is done, there may be a period of time where the old data is considered no longer valid, but the new data is not ready to be official designated. The result is a temporary period where some previously existing areas are missing. Given that this is a constantly occurring circumstance, any snapshot version of the data will have this issue.  

Here are additional details from FEMA regarding data quality:

Attribute Accuracy: The National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) data incorporates all Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM) databases published by FEMA, and any Letters Of Map Revision (LOMRs) that have been issued against those databases since their publication date. The DFIRM database consists of community-based vector files and associated attributes produced in conjunction with the hard copy FEMA FIRM. The published effective FIRM and DFIRM maps are issued as the official designation of the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). As such they are adopted by local communities and form the basis for administration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). For these purposes they are authoritative. Provisions exist in the regulations for public review, appeals and corrections of the flood risk information shown to better match real world conditions. As with any engineering analysis of this type, variation from the estimated flood heights and floodplain boundaries is possible. Details of FEMA's requirements for the FISs and flood mapping process that produces these data are available in the Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners. Attribute accuracy was tested by manual comparison of source graphics with hardcopy plots and a symbolized display on an interactive computer graphic system. Independent quality control testing of FEMA's DFIRM databases was also performed. To obtain more detailed information in areas where Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) and/or floodways have been determined, users are encouraged to consult the Flood Profiles and Floodway Data and/or Summary of Stillwater Elevations tables contained within the FIS report that accompanies the individual components of the DFIRM data. Users should be aware that BFEs shown in the S_BFE table represent rounded whole-foot elevations. These BFEs are intended for flood insurance rating purposes only and should not be used as the sole source of flood elevation information. Accordingly, flood elevation data presented in the FIS report must be used in conjunction with the FIRM for purposes of construction and/or floodplain management. The 1-percent-annual-chance water-surface elevations shown in the S_XS table match the regulatory elevations shown in the FIS report.

Logical Consistency: When FEMA revises an FIS, adjacent studies are checked to ensure agreement between flood elevations at the boundaries. Likewise flood elevations at the confluence of streams studied independently are checked to ensure agreement at the confluence. The FIRM and the FIS are developed together and care is taken to ensure that the elevations and other features shown on the flood profiles in the FIS agree with the information shown on the FIRM. However, the elevations as shown on the FIRM are rounded whole-foot elevations. They must be shown so that a profile recreated from the elevations on the FIRM will match the FIS profiles within one half of one foot.

Completeness: Information contained in the National Flood Hazard Layer data reflects the content of the source materials. Features may have been eliminated or generalized on the source graphic, due to scale and legibility constraints. With new mapping, FEMA plans to maintain full detail in the spatial data it produces. However, older information is often transferred from existing maps where some generalization has taken place. Flood risk data are developed for communities participating in the NFIP for use in insurance rating and for floodplain management. Flood hazard areas are determined using statistical analyses of records of river flow, storm tides, and rainfall; information obtained through consultation with the communities; floodplain topographic surveys; and hydrological and hydraulic analysis. Both detailed and approximate analyses are employed. Generally, detailed analyses are used to generate flood risk data only for developed or developing areas of communities. For areas where little or no development is expected to occur, FEMA uses approximate analyses to generate flood risk data. Typically, only drainage areas that are greater than one square mile are studied. The National Flood Hazard Layer data reflects the most current information available when the distribution data set was created.

Horizontal Positional Accuracy: The National Flood Hazard Layer data consists of community based vector files and associated attributes produced in conjunction with the hardcopy FEMA FIRM. The published effective FIRM and DFIRM maps are issued as the official designation of the SFHAs. As such they are adopted by local communities and form the basis for administration of the NFIP. For these purposes they are authoritative. Provisions exist in the regulations for public review, appeals and corrections of the flood risk information shown to better match real world conditions. As with any engineering analysis of this type, variation from the estimated flood heights and floodplain boundaries is possible. Details of FEMA's requirements for the FISs and flood mapping process that produces these data are available in the Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners. Horizontal accuracy was tested by manual comparison of source graphics with hardcopy plots and a symbolized display on an interactive computer graphic system. Independent quality control testing of the individual DFIRM data sets was also performed.

Vertical Positional Accuracy: The National Flood Hazard Layer data consists of community based vector files and associated attributes produced in conjunction with the hardcopy FEMA FIRM. The published effective FIRM and DFIRM maps are issued as the official designation of the SFHAs. As such they are adopted by local communities and form the basis for administration of the NFIP. For these purposes they are authoritative. Provisions exist in the regulations for public review, appeals and corrections of the flood risk information shown to better match real world conditions. As with any engineering analysis of this type, variation from the estimated flood heights and floodplain boundaries is possible. Details of FEMA's requirements for the FISs and flood mapping process that produces these data are available in the Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners. Vertical accuracy was tested by manual comparison of source graphics with hardcopy plots and a symbolized display on an interactive computer graphic system. Independent quality control testing of the individual DFIRM data sets was also performed.

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Comments

  • Avatar
    Sheri Funk

    What does AE mean when that appears in a property description under Flood Zone?  It has an "i" by it, which I would assume means additional information, but when Iclick on, it just refers me to the help desk.....the information above isn't helpful.

  • Avatar
    Janine Sieja - Product Mgt

    Sheri, the definition of the AE code (from FEMA) is as follows:

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    | In communities that participate in the NFIP, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply to AE zones. The base floodplain where base flood elevations are provided. AE Zones are now used on new format FIRMs instead of A1-A30 Zones.
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    If you wouldn't mind sending me the property address in question, I can check the functioning of the "i" tips layer and update the information there. Thanks for pointing this out.



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