State of Maryland 2016 Hazard Mitigation Plan

In 2016, the State of Maryland updated its Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) and included consideration of how climate change will affect the natural hazards that threaten the state's critical facilities, assets, and citizens. The plan analyzes risks of natural hazards in each region of the state, and provides data to guide hazard mitigation decisions and prioritize at-risk areas. The plan was developed by the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in coordination with other planning and adaptation initiatives at the local, state, and federal levels.

Sections II and III of the plan evaluate risks posed by 8 hazards, and assess the vulnerability of critical facilities and state assets, as well as additional possible impacts of natural hazards. These sections describe how climate change impacts, like increased temperatures and changes in precipitation patterns, are expected to exacerbate hazard risks in Maryland. Thunderstorms, wildfire, and drought are identified as likely hazards in certain regions, but the plan focuses particularly on five hazards that pose significant risk for every region of the state: coastal hazards, flooding, winter storms, tornadoes, and wind. Two of these focal hazards that will be exacerbated by climate change include:

  • Coastal hazards (including sea level rise, erosion, hurricanes, tropical storms, and nor’easters): The HMP was developed concurrently with Maryland’s Coastal Resiliency Risk Assessment, which analyzes the state’s coastal land uses and identifies areas with the highest potential for risk mitigation for coastal communities. By coordinating this process, MEMA was able to incorporate the assessment’s analysis of the risks sea-level rise and climate change pose to Maryland’s coastal communities. It also included analysis of the potential for conserving and restoring natural habitats, such as marshes and coastal forests, as a strategy for protecting communities and mitigating the risks of coastal hazards. 
  • Floods (including flash floods, riverine flooding, and coastal flooding): Riverine and flash flooding will also be affected by climate change, which can increase the duration and intensity of rainfall, and the speed and timing of snowmelt. Coastal flood risk will also be exacerbated by rising sea levels and more intense storms. 

Section IV describes vulnerability based upon land development patterns, growth trends, and population densities throughout the state, including demographic data on race and income. Using flood risk information from previous sections, the plan identifies 8 local jurisdictions in Maryland with the greatest risk of flood hazards, as well as areas at moderate risk. 

Maryland’s strategies for reducing risks of natural hazards are in Section V, which includes the following strategies for enhancing climate resilience:

  • Evaluate climate risks to historic properties, and provide education and outreach on hazard mitigation and climate resilience strategies for these properties (Strategies 7 and 8).
  • Pursue construction of coastal restoration and hazard mitigation projects to increase climate resilience in vulnerable communities (Strategy 15).
  • Increase opportunities for adaptation planning and implementation of green-gray adaptation projects to help vulnerable communities respond to climate impacts (Strategy 18).
  • Provide technical assistance, data, and tools to help communities address localized flooding, storm events, and sea-level rise by developing plans, updating codes and ordinances, and adopting programs (Strategy 22).
  • Implement CoastSmart Council guidance for siting, design, construction, and major reconstruction of state capital projects to minimize risks from coastal flooding, sea-level rise, and storm surge (Strategy 28).
  • Conduct a roadway flood vulnerability assessment to analyze coastal flood risk to roadways, including consideration of sea-level rise projections for 2050 and 2100 (Strategy 33).

This plan was developed and submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for review as a prerequisite for receiving hazard mitigation funding under the Stafford Act. Hazard mitigation plans must demonstrate an understanding of the probability of future hazard events, including where, how often, and how intensely an event may occur.  

A primary goal for MEMA in developing this plan was to increase collaboration across risk mitigation efforts happening throughout the state, region, and at the federal level. MEMA developed the plan in collaboration with local jurisdictions, the Maryland Department of Environment, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change, Maryland Silver Jackets, Maryland State Highway Administration, the CoastSmart Council, and more. Six Regional Outreach Meetings were held and a Regional Perspective Questionnaire was distributed to gain input from the public and to inform the development of the plan.


Publication Date: August 2016

Related Organizations:

  • Maryland Emergency Management Agency


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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